Friday, 12 April, 2024

Kalapani Belongs To Nepal

Arju Dahal


Nepal has been an independent and sovereign nation since the ancient times, known for its historic bravery the country upholds the title till date. Nepal has been surrounded by two emerging superpowers on each side of its borders - India and China. Due to unregulated border between the two countries, there has been border dispute between the two nations. They share 1,800-km open border with thousands of its citizens from both the countries crossing the frontier on a daily basis for various purposes.

Border dispute
With the release of new map by the Indian government, fierce outrage has flared up in the country, reviving the bitter memories of 2015 blockade that impelled the people to launch hashtag #"Back off India". The new Indian map has included Lipulek and Kalapani in its territory, violating the past bilateral treaty as well as the international laws.
The Kalapani dispute and the encroachment on the Nepali land on the southern border has once again come to light. However, the dispute has been unattended by the Nepal government due to its instability and lack of regulations. During the then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Nepal in 2065 BS, the Kalapani and Susta border issue was raised with Mukherjee showing positive approach to its solution. He stated that, the border issue to be solved by dialogues between two countries based on the evidences and the documents present. But 10 years down the line, the dispute is getting more serious.
Nepal and India are tied to many cultural and historical aspects. The 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty signed between Nepal and India also highlight the social and cultural relations although it contains many unequal provisions.
Article 1 of the treaty upholds the mutuality between the two governments, to agree mutually, acknowledge and respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of each other. According to UN Charter Article 4(2), "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any other many inconsistent with the purpose of United Nations."
UN General Assembly Resolution 2625, affirming the importance of the friendly relations and co-operation among the states upholds the principle that, "States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or In any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."
Despite having these laws and treaties, the problem has been taking a form of national debate. One of the main reasons leading to ignorance of these international laws is weak economic status of one and the powerful of the other. When a border dispute occurs between India and Pakistan, the latter moved into action to internationalise it. But this does not happen in our case. This is failure of our government's potentiality to take a firm conviction on our own land and its people.
The inclusion of Nepali territories in the new map by the Indian government smacks of its hegemonic attitude. The people living near the borderlines are likely to face negative consequences arising from this tension. In 2015, India imposed a blockade on Nepal over the new constitution, creating social, economic and political tension to the Nepali people.
Sovereignty of a nation has become a pivotal principle in international law. It means an independent nation with no external interference and immunity from the other side or outside its territorial border. It also implies an obligation of a sovereign nation, to fulfill its rights and benefits in good faith. The most important principle of all the international treaties and laws lie in securing peace and security of every nation, but since decades the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Nepal has been questioned upon by the neighbouring state.
The pivotal reason why Nepal has been enduring such a bullying behaviour is its excessive economic dependence on India. Nepal imports almost every product from India. For the Indian Government, Nepal has become one of those countries that wouldn’t sustain if India blocks any route or products to Nepal. And rightfully we have become, the fulfillment of nation's necessity from vegetables to the luxurious goods depends on India. This shows our weak production capacity. We need to start focusing on building our own industries, mobilising human resources and producing our own vegetables and basic food in our fertile agricultural lands. It is high time for the government to strengthen the local economy as it helps stabilise economy and boost growth, thereby enhancing the nation’s status abroad.
Being a bilateral issue, the first step to solving the dispute is by following amicable dialogues between the two countries. If the government-level dialogue fails to sort it out, it is necessary to activate the track-II diplomacy involving the experts from both nations.

National unity
It is necessary for Nepal government to understand that once our land becomes a foreign land our people becomes a foreigner in their own land. The government should look into the root of the problem keeping in mind the national unity and sovereignty. Border problem has since the very ancient times been one of the most sensitive issues everywhere. If a small chunk of land continues to get encroached one day it takes a shape of a big and notable chunk of land. One country's land is connected with emotions and pride of the people.

(Dahal is working as a paralegal at Raman and Associates and can be reached at