Thursday, 1 June, 2023

Nepal’s Clear Standing On Territorial Integrity

Despite Nepal’s repeated calls for resolving all the border-related issues with India through diplomatic channels, the latter has not shown its willingness to do so. Instead, the Indian government has lately announced the expansion work of a link road to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake that are located in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The access road passes through Nepali territory in Lipulek and Kalapani areas. No sooner had Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh virtually inaugurated the road on May 8, 2020 than Nepal expressed her serious concern over the matter.

Hundreds of thousands of Nepali people took to the streets across Nepal to protest the objectionable Indian move. With the support from all the political parties in Nepal, the then government had issued a new political map of the country with the inclusion of Lipulek, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani areas within it. Many historical facts and documents, including the Sugauli Treaty, have shown that the land lying to the east of the Kali River belongs to Nepal.

India has also deployed its troops at Kalapani since long despite the continued protests from Nepali people. On the one hand, India claims that it is quite serious about addressing the protracted border problems through bilateral talks, and it keeps on encroaching upon Nepal’s territories, on the other. This type of attitude on the part of the Indian leadership has been an obstacle to seeking a solution to the pertinent border problems. It is unsuitable for India, a regional power, to continue to cause troubles to its immediate close neighbours like Nepal. There is no doubt that India has been losing its image as a good neighbour among the Nepali people, political parties and their leaders, civil society members, media and students because of its unbecoming acts of border infringement.

India’s further plans to continue occupying the territories in Lipulek, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani in the northwest Nepal were revealed through a recent statement made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said that India is expanding the link road to Kailash and Manasarovar. In the wake of such a unilateral declaration by Modi, the Government of Nepal has called upon its Indian counterpart to immediately halt construction and expansion of any kind of road within the Nepali territories of Limpiyadhura, Lipulek and Kalapani.

A Cabinet meeting held on Sunday decided to draw India’s urgent attention into this issue. Making public the official views of the government on the road construction by India in Nepal’s territories, Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gyanendra Bahadur Karki on Sunday said that the government was committed to resolving the border issues with India through diplomatic negotiations.

With the border problems getting complicated due to India’s apathy, Nepal now aims to sort out these problems through political channel on the basis of historical evidences, treaties, facts and maps. A few days ago, a spokesperson of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu stated that the border issues could be resolved in the spirit of close and friendly relations between Nepal and India. Instead of lingering such sensitive issues, India must be ready to begin holding fruitful dialogues in order to seek a permanent solution to such issues on the ground of sovereign equality.