India on Wednesday protested Nepal’s revision of its political map that has incorporated areas that are part of Indian territory.
Calling it a “unilateral” act, India urged Kathmandu to reconsider its decision. In a statement, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “Nepal is well aware of India’s consistent position on this matter and we urge the Government of Nepal to refrain from such 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.”
Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli on Tuesday had announced in the Nepalese parliament that his government would be incorporating the areas of Lipulekh, Lympiyadhura and Kalapani into an updated political map.
The decision came days after India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched a road link from India to China border that, according to Kathmandu, ran through disputed, unresolved territories between India and Nepal.
The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory – India as part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Dharchula district.
Nepal officially launched its new political map on Wednesday. The announcement was made by Padma Kumari Aryal, Minister for Land Management, Cooperative & Poverty Alleviation endorsing the decision of the Nepal cabinet.
During the virtual launch of the map, she said, “It is a historic moment of happiness for the people of Nepal. The government will not allow the erosion of self-esteem of our people, won’t compromise on the self-respect of Nepal. Nepal will publish the new map and make it part of the school textbooks,”
The cartographic revision has led to increased tension between New Delhi and Kathmandu raising concerns over a diplomatic resolution to the problem
Speaking to India Today TV, former Indian envoy to Nepal Ambassador Ranjit Rae said, “The launch of a new map showing new external boundaries of Nepal has complicated bilateral discussions and made the issue more intractable.”
Hoping that the Nepalese leadership will create a “positive” atmosphere for “diplomatic dialogue” to resolve the outstanding boundary question, MEA spokesperson said, “The Government of Nepal has released a revised official map of Nepal today that includes parts of Indian territory. This unilateral action is not based on historical facts and evidence. It is contrary to the bilateral understanding to resolve the outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue. Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India.”
The politics over this within Nepal is deep-seated in the fight for power between Prachanda and Prime Minister KP Oli. With Prachanda raising the issue in parliament, Oli’s government had to show assertiveness.
“PM Oli has also been under a lot of pressure domestically from within his party. There are reports that China played an important role in saving his government. At times like this it is always convenient to divert attention from domestic problems by whipping up anti-India nationalism,” said Ambassador Ranjit Rae.
The new map includes 335-km land area including Limpiyadhura in the Nepalese territory.
The new map was drawn on the basis of the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 signed between Nepal and then the British India government and other relevant documents, which suggests Limpiyadhura, from where the Kali river originated, is Nepal’s border with India, minister Padma Kumari Aryal explained.
But this action cannot be seen in isolation. In Nepal, the border question has been an issue ever since India updated its map on November 2 last year which included Kalapani, an area that Nepal claims as its territory. There have been agitations and protests by the youth in Nepal for the government to act against the decision by India.