India-Nepal ties have turned sour over territorial disputes in Kalapani region. This altercation directly threatens Indo-Nepalese historical friendship and could see one of India’s staunchest allies in the world turn into a foe.
Nepal recently released a new political map showing the areas of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh within its borders. India hit back at Nepal and said that Nepalese cartographic aggression will not be accepted.
The spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs — Anurag Srivastava said the map released by the Nepalese government is a unilateral action that is not based on any historical fact or evidence. He also said that Nepalese actions go against the bilateral understanding to resolve issues through diplomatic dialogue and territorial claims by Nepal will not be accepted by India.
Srivastava also urged Kathmandu to refrain from unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “We hope that the Nepalese leadership will create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues,” he added.
India’s maps have long shown these areas within India, though Kathmandu insists this is a violation of the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli.
Nepal on Wednesday released a new political map depicting Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani as Nepalese territory. According to Nepali media reports, the map increases Nepal’s total area by 335 square kilometres. Nepal’s minister for land management, cooperatives and poverty alleviation, Padma Kumari Aryal said the occasion was “historically pleasant” for Nepal and its people.
As EuraAsian Times previously reported, Indo-Nepalese relations have spiralled since the inauguration of the Lipulekh Pass. An issue over the Kalapani had developed after India had depicted the area as a part of the state of Uttarakhand.
However, ties between Kathmandu and New Delhi have hit rock bottom in recent weeks. India has alleged that Nepal is being influenced by China but Kathmandu has dismissed these claims and says its acting unilaterally. Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Oli Sharma is under immense pressure as he faces backlash from protestors over the territorial issues.
The pressure seems to have got to the veteran leader as he deployed troops in the area Lipulekh and recently implied that Nepal was facing a more imminent threat of coronavirus from the porous border with India.
There is another contesting claim in Nepal i.e. Kalapani was included in their Census record till some sixty years ago. Nepal’s Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pande had claimed in 2015 that Kalapani was “gifted” to India by King Mahendra Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal after the aftermath of 1962 India-China war to deter possible intrusions from China.
India has been patrolling the border areas since then. India-Nepal border on the western flank is largely marked under the Treaty of Sugauli signed in 1816 between Nepal’s king and East India Company. The complete area in dispute is a geo-strategic vantage spot for being a tri-junction – India, Nepal and China (Tibet).
India needs to tread carefully and resort to diplomatic dialogue and meetings to solve the territorial dispute. Nepal remains vital for India since it forms a natural buffer between India and China.