Nepal stations bombard Uttarakhand villages with anti-India songs

DEHRADUN/ PITHORAGARH: Residents of Uttarakhand villages bordering Nepal that can catch the frequency of radio stations in the neighbouring country are being treated to a sudden surfeit of anti-India songs that call for return of areas in Uttarakhand like Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura that have been included in Kathmandu’s new map. These songs, mostly played on FM channels between news bulletins and other shows, don’t fail to taunt Nepalese politicians for “not doing enough to get back the land that belongs to Nepal.”

Babita Sanwal, a school teacher in Dharchula in Pithoragarh district who was till some time back a regular listener of Darchula FM of Nepal, said she generally opted to listen to news on radio while walking back home from school. “I have now stopped listening to Nepalese FM after they started playing a lot of anti-India songs on FM,” she said. “These songs are being played multiple rounds, every hour.”

Sanwal said she remember the lyrics of one of the songs: “Hamrai ho tyo Kalapani, Lipulekha, Limpiyadhura… Utha, jaga, veer Nepali (Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura are ours… Wake up, brave people).” She tuned out after a local kid asked her if what is being said in the song is true.

There are other songs that say “Lipulekh and Kalapani should be ours, it’s our land that has been stolen”. While some of these songs are between a year and six months old and have resurfaced now with a vengeance, quite a few premièred recently on platforms like YouTube between March and June this year.

According to locals, most of the songs are being run on Nepalese FM channels like Naya Nepal, Kalapani Radio, Darchula Radio, Lok Darpan, Radio Sarthi and Mallikarjun Radio whose broadcasts are accessible across the border in towns like Dharchula and Jhoolaghat in Pithoragarh.

Krishna Garbiyal, a local trader from Dharchula, who used to listen to news on these radio stations told TOI that he has stopped doing so of late since “the news bulletins are totally one-sided and show India in a bad light.”

He said, “I stopped (listening) when I heard a song that said even Shillong and Darjeeling were part of Nepal and they will not just take away Kalapani but also drink water in Nalapani (a seasonal river in Dehradun),” he added.

Manju Tinkari, a radio jockey with a Nepalese radio station, told TOI: “We neither exaggerate nor under-play things. We just read out the news bulletins as they have happened. Also, the choice of songs is mostly dictated by listeners’ requests.”

N S Napalchyal, former chief secretary of Uttarakhand who hails from Dharchula area of Pithoragarh, said the Nepalese propaganda needs to be strongly countered. “The state government and even the central government should start its own community radios in the area to give a clear picture to locals about the present scenario.”

Madan Kaushik, state government spokesperson, said that the issue is “a genuine one and the government, which is already focusing on setting up community radios, will definitely give a thought to start local radio stations in Pithoragarh too”.

A senior Nepalese official from an intergovernmental organisation in Kathmandu told TOI that “such nationalist and anti-India songs are not prevalent across Nepal and, in my view, would be prevalent only in areas along the border”.

Source: Times of India

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