Nepal’s new official map is based on historic documents dating back to the early 19th century and cannot be termed artificial, a top official in Kathmandu has said.
Rajan Bhattarai, Foreign Policy Adviser to Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, said the border dispute at Kalapani region had received attention during the Vajpayee years, when a series of meetings was held between top officials of both sides, and the same should be resumed at the earliest to reach a mutually agreed solution.
“Our map is not artificial. We are willing to sit across the table and discuss it with our Indian counterparts ... We are willing to look at the versions of both sides. Our position is based on the historical documents dating back to the Treaty of Sugauli of 1816, which demarcated the shape of present-day Nepal,” Mr. Bhattarai said. told The Hindu over phone from Kathmandu.
Nepal launched the new official map on Wednesday, which depicts Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as part of its territory.
India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had hit out at Nepal’s claims, saying, “Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India.” He also urged the Nepali leadership for a dialogue over the issue.
Mr. Bhattarai a key official in the team of Prime Minister Oli, appreciated India’s offer for dialogue. He said Nepal too desired an early dialogue to find a solution to the matter but argued that but it was India that had been delaying.
“We have sent two diplomatic notes to India seeking dialogue at the level of the Foreign Secretaries but India has responded without offering a date for holding a meeting. To make the matter more complicated, they have taken unilateral steps like building of infrastructure on the territory of Kalapani,” he stated.
Mr. Bhattarai described the border dispute in the western sector and at Susta on the U.P.-Bihar border as unresolved issues from the past. The region of Kalapani, he argued, was offered to India after the 1962 India-China war by the King of Nepal, who wanted to help India’s security concerns due to perceived lingering Chinese threats. “Kalapani was not a part of Nepal-India problems. It was Nepal’s territory that the king had allowed India to use temporarily; our leaders noticed in the 1990s that the region was hosting Indian soldiers and protested and we continue to maintain that the region should be handed back to us.”
Comment | Lower the temperature, defuse the issue
The official said India and Nepal had held a discussion on the region during the tenure of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had shown interest in resolving the issue during discussions with his Nepali counterpart Girija Prasad Koirala during the latter’s visit to Delhi between July 31 and August 6, 2000.
During the visit, both the Prime Ministers directed the Joint Working Group of the Joint Technical Level Boundary Committee to examine the facts of the boundary “in the western sector, including the Kalapani area”.
Mr. Bhattarai said that after Vajpayee’s decision, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and Nepal’s Ambassador Bhesh Bahadur Thapa held a series of meetings till 2003 on the Kalapani issue. He urged India to revive the dialogue on the western sector and address Nepal’s concerns. “Prime Minister Oli has the full support of the people on the boundary issue. Political parties, irrespective of ideological divide, are unitedly supporting the Prime Minister on the issue.”