Thursday, August 03, 2006


Indians are doing just fine here....
Kathmandu, Nepal

Everybody calm down, just calm down.

Tales of Indians threatened by Maoists here seem to have been greatly exaggerated (imagine that, something being exaggerated in India). Bottom line: 2 people have left the country (TWO), no other Indians I spoke to have any plans to and the general consensus is that the Indian news accounts have greatly overstated the facts.

I paid a visit to the Indian Embassy yesterday, but I might as well have phoned as they would only let me speak to the "consular attache" via a house phone. After the standard denials and nothingspeak ("nothing has happened as yet meddem") he then went on to contradict himself by saying that in fact, a couple of people (couldn't specify the number) had been harassed by "the people who are agitating in this country." And what happened to those people who had been harassed? "They have left the country."

Well, that sounds like "something" has happened to many people? "One or two." What, you don't know how many people have left the country under threat? Then he claimed the Indian Ambassador was now meeting with the PM. (the actual meeting turned out to be with a lesser figure, see news link below.)

As usual, the contact with Indian bureaucracy was more useful for entertainment value than for actual information. It was kind of nostalgic to see the bushy moustaches and "safari suits," though. The old colonial bungalow-style building and bougainvillea trailing over the fence complete the Indian feeling.

Then I went to one of the major casinos - Casino Rad at the Radisson. Most of the casino tourists and some of the managers and employees are Indian. No exodus here - the place was LOADED with Indians. Punjabis with their turbans were waddling around piling their buffet plates high with naan and rice and having a good old time. A bunch of Haryanvis were there from Sonepur and got very excited that I had been to Gurgaon. They were all watching the floor show, which is skinny Nepalis in skimpy costumes cavorting to Punjabi and filmi music (including a dancing midget in a "sexy" outfit. I kind of wish I had not seen that.)

My friend Kenny is a Tibetan Indian (born and raised in Mussoorie) visiting here from Delhi. He had Indian friends there, so I asked Ravi from Jaipur about it. "FAKE news," Ravi retorted, "this is just fake news. Indians have no problems here." Ravi was on the phone to Gurgaon. Someone was phoning in blackjack bets as he sat there. He had chips worth $2,000 US on the table in front of him.

Indeed, lots of Indians seemed to be really enjoying the roulette table. How did I know they were Indian? Easily identifiable by their plaid shirts and tight trousers!

At my own hotel, a couple of Indians are employed. I asked the desk guys who speak good English about it. The street gyan seems to be that yes, a couple guys did get a hard time, but they had run afoul of locals and those locals happened to have quasi-Maoist connections (quasi Maoist, possibly quasi-thug). So those non-representative Maoists came and threatened the Indians. It has nothing to do with any official Maoist party action. Those guys did leave the country in much the same way you might if you ran afoul of some Mumbai goondas and had to leave Maharashtra.

The fact is that, despite admonitions and orders from Maoist Centre, party members afield are continuing abductions, extortions, vandalizing or shutting down factories and noncooperative businesses, holding people's courts and so on - but victimizing only Nepalis. There are several such accounts in the paper daily, and of course those are only the ones that reach media. Average rural Nepalis are in far more danger from the Maoists than any Indians or other foreigners here.

A local paper ran the first story I'd seen about it here.
by Surendra Phuyal
As a leading Indian newspaper sounded alarm over a new threat posed by Maoist-aligned All Nepali Hotel Worker's Union in Nepal, India's Ministry of External Affairs on Tues. clarified that the entire Indian cmomunity in Nepali is not under threat and that it has taken up thematter with the govt. of Nepal.

Hard on the heels of the TOI front page report Tues. that "Maoists are hounding out Indians" with addtiional reports on an inside page warning of a backlash (ed note: sounds like TOI was dead set on creating that backlash themselves singlehandedly) - the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu was expected to take up the matter with Home Minister Sitaula on Tuesday.

Exaggerating the story of two Indian nationals - Rajesh Kataria and Kishore Sagar - getting their marching orders from the CPNM affiliated ANHWU this past week, the TOI wrote: "Death threats and 24 hour deadlines for leaving - received by Indian hospitality sector employees have created a deep sense of fear in the community." The 2 were employed at a Kathmandu casino (ed. note: I heard it was Casino Royal at the Yak & Yeti) and have reportedly returned to India after receiving death threats.

The daily added, "the frightened community leaders have gone to the Indian Embassy in KTM for protection." The elaborate report also talked about an alleged Maoist threat to Indian surveyors working at the proposed Koshi Dam site in eastern Nepal, Maoist threats to Dabur Nepal and other Indian joint ventures and last year's ANHWU threat to India's Taj Group which had a stake in 2 major hotels.

There's more, but I can't find the Kathmandu Post link and am having to type it all other words, yes, some Indian ventures were threatened at various times in the past but no more so than lots of Nepali businesses, like the noodle factory that was shut down today or Gurkha Beer which was just recently able to reopen.

Here is a Yahoo news link.


Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...


Ann in Boston writes:

I'm just reading your blogs as I sit in my aunt's huge
house in the suburbs of Boston. We are moving
tomorrow to an apt in Providence and Henry will try to
get some work there. He really wants to be here and
Your articles are so good I really think you should
put them together and submit them to a publisher! I
really think you could get published. I think you
could have a book made out of it; everyone loves
reading travel adventures as they like to live
vicariously and you can promote yourself here (do
interviews etc) you have that kind of personality...
Put it together and send it to some reputable
publishing houses, maybe even in London!

Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

The Mumbai Marauder writes:

Thanks for the detailed account! I am going to send this mail to Times Of India, the daily that published the item. Let us see whether they will clarify the issue. It seems that once a true blue national newspaper, TOI has become a cheap tabloid. Sensationalizing everything and gaining a few more readership. Be it Daya Nayak Case or Nepali Maoists threatening Indian nationals.
Few months back, a prominent Crime Branch Encounter Specialist (read who kills the Underworld dons in encounters) was accused of hands-in-gloves with a a gangster and killing his opponents for cash reward. He was put behind bars and suspended. THe accuser (Ketan Tirodkar, a journalist and himself is under trial for underworld connections) got a big mileage in TOI. One of the bloggers set about to bring out the truth in a blog, and TOI ran an item about how the blogger is violating the rules, contempt of court and she could be put behind bars etcc. quoting in house lawyers. She was of good guts and stood firm, albeit removing her personal info from the blog. Last heard, Daya Nayak is acquitted of all charges and helping Mumbai Anti terrorist squad to slove the Bombay Blast case through his vast network of informants. Need any more examples for exaggeration?
I have been a loyal reader of TOI for the past 11 years, never once missed the paper, but these days I have my apetite left unsatiated for NEWS. All I get is, gossips, family feuds and sexual offence, all spiced up or in BBC parlance, sexed up.
Thik it's time to switch to another worthy newspaper, but where is one?