Fake MEA letter on Twitter refers to New Delhi’s alleged tactics to make the Himalayan country choose India-made vaccines

Facts are never based on hearsay. This universal truth should have been followed by Kathmandu-based China Study Centre’s Madan Regmi while indulging in anti-India propaganda through his Twitter posts.

A post by him on March 2 citing a 'secret letter' by India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) merely exposes his lack of understanding of how things work in the real world. It also shows his penchant for spreading rumours which may momentarily serve the purpose of a few negative-minded individuals when it comes to India-Nepal relations.

This 'so-called' MEA 'secret letter' of December 3, 2020 maintains that “Hon’ble PM has directed that concerned Ministries and Departments may prepare a list of targeted countries to which we can provide Covid-19 vaccines for exchanging other strategic interests.”

The 'letter' also maintains that, “In view of the above, Nepal has been identified to be included in this list. We may leverage the vaccine assistance for India’s better outreach in Nepal, compelling the NCP government to soften its claims on border issues and establishing India’s role of supplier in neighbouring countries.”

First of all, the letter which Regmi has claimed in his Twitter post as one belonging to India’s Ministry of External Affairs is a fake. No such letter has been issued by the Ministry last year on December 3.

A cursory glance will show that it is a photoshopped letter, with both the logo and date digitally altered to suit the agenda to demean India internationally and hurt its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ programme which helped Nepal in securing India-made vaccines.

Remember, just five days after India rolled out its countrywide COVID-19 vaccination programme on January 16, India dispatched 1 million doses of the Serum Institute of India vaccine to Nepal under grant assistance.

It was supplied to the Himalayan country following a request from the Nepal government. This request was also made during Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali’s January 14-16 visit for the sixth India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting.

As per the statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs on January 15, the two countries during the Joint Commission Meeting had discussed cooperation in the areas of connectivity, economy, trade, power, oil and gas, political and security issues, border management, development partnership, tourism, culture, education and capacity building.

Besides, “the close cooperation between the two sides in combating Covid-19 pandemic in the region was noted. Nepal congratulated India on the remarkable success in production of Covishield and Covaxin vaccines in India and requested for early provision of vaccines to Nepal,” the MEA had said in the statement issued after the Joint Commission Meeting.

The second batch of 1 million doses of India made vaccines was supplied to Nepal on a commercial basis on February 10.

In no way, therefore, were these supplies to the Himalayan country made on the basis of some quid pro quo measures as the 'so-called MEA letter' attached by China Study Centre’s Madan Regmi in his tweet suggests.

In sync with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, supplies of vaccines to Nepal were made soon after they were approved for use by the regulators.

As such, to say that New Delhi brought pressure on Kathmandu for availing vaccines from India or used Nepali migrants as tools to force the K P Sharma Oli government to get vaccines from India is like shredding the truth at the altar of propaganda.

It is clear that this 'so-called MEA letter' which is packed with unverified and unsubstantiated information, has been mischievously put up by Madan Regmi on his Twitter handle to create disharmony between India and Nepal.

Had he been a fair-minded person, he would have checked with the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu to ascertain the truth about the letter. But since he seems to have acted at somebody's behest, he went ahead with an attempt to malign India on the basis of a forged letter.

Prima facie, he appears to have done it under pressure from his promoters in China.

The leaked correspondence between Nepal’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy, appearing in the Nepali media in early February, had exposed Beijing and its dealings with the Himalayan country. This leaked correspondence showed that a reluctant Kathmandu was forced to accept the Chinese Sinovac vaccine without its efficiency and efficacy being established.

“If the Nepali side could not collect this batch of the vaccine as soon as possible, it will be redistributed by other commercial orders and the manufacturing of the vaccines for Nepal will have to be put on a much later list,” sentences of the leaked correspondence, quoted by wire service IANS, said.

This development had embarrassed Beijing as it had fuelled anti-China sentiments among residents of Nepal. The current move of Madan Regmi, whose pro-China leanings are an established fact, is seen as an attempt to do whatever could equally damage India’s image in the Himalayan country.

And for doing this, he chose to post a fake MEA letter using his Twitter handle — all this to draw the local media’s attention. So far, however, this objective of Regmi has summarily failed as he has not been taken seriously in Nepal.