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Nepal’s new political map claims India’s territories

Activists affiliated with 'Human Rights and Peace Society Nepal' holding placards protest against the alleged encroachment of Nepal border by India in far west of Nepal, near the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal May 12, 2020.

Activists affiliated with 'Human Rights and Peace Society Nepal' holding placards protest against the alleged encroachment of Nepal border by India in far west of Nepal, near the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal May 12, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

New Delhi says such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India.

Nepal’s new official map is “artificial” and unacceptable to India, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday after Kathmandu unveiled a new political map that claimed Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh of Uttarakhand as part of its sovereign territory. 

“This unilateral act 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,” said official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, urging Kathmandu to opt for diplomatic dialogue to settle border disputes.

Political map of Nepal released by the country on May 20, 2020.

Political map of Nepal released by the country on May 20, 2020.  

Earlier in the day, the new map was launched at a press conference in Kathmandu by Minister of Land Management Padma Kumari Aryal, who said the government of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is committed to protecting the territorial integrity of the country.

“It is a historic moment of happiness for the people of Nepal. The government of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli will uphold the prestige of Nepal. We will publish the new map and make it a part of the school textbooks,” said Ms. Aryal launching the map, which escalates the row over territorial claims between the two South Asian neighbours.

India said Nepal was aware of the understanding on this issue and asked the government of Mr. Oli to return to dialogue. “We urge the Government of Nepal to refrain from such an unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Nepali diplomatic sources maintain the region of Kalapani and the contiguous areas to the east of the river Kali and Susta on the Uttar Pradesh-Bihar border are the only parts of the nearly 1,800-km India-Nepal boundary that remain unresolved. The area of Susta near Gorakhpur can also be noted in the new map. Kathmandu claims that India has encroached upon this area, claiming tracts of land, and wants Delhi to evacuate population from the location. Launching of the new map took place a day after Mr. Oli in a speech in parliament targeted India for alleged attempts at regional domination.

Also read | Nepal can let India use link road: K.P. Sharma Oli

“India’s Ashokan pillar has the lions with ‘Truth shall prevail’ inscribed at the base. They actually mean ‘Lion (might) shall prevail. But Nepal is certain that truth alone shall prevail,” he said on Tuesday, holding India responsible for the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Himalayan country. The observations indicated the mood of the political class in Kathmandu which has been on a collision course with India since Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a link road to Tibet on May 8.

The newly inaugurated Darchula-Lipulekh link road passes through the disputed region and will cut travelling time to Mansarovar pilgrimage destinations. Nepal had reacted angrily asserting the area belongs to Kathmandu and Mr. Oli had said his government was willing to give a road to Tibet on lease to India without surrendering the region. “We look forward to begin diplomatic negotiation with friendly nation of India regarding the territorial issues,” Ms. Aryal said on Wednesday.

Following the Indian action of May 8, there were reports of anti-India protests in parts of Nepal.

India had published a new map on November 2, 2019, representing the political boundaries of the country which showed the status of the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The same map also showed the region of Kalapani as part of the Indian territory.

Also read | Nepal to deploy more forces on India border, says Foreign Minister Gyawali

Nepal, however, maintains that not just the Kalapani region, but Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh are parts of its territory as demarcated in the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli. All three areas are to the east of the river Kali, according to the Nepali formulation. It says Lipulekh was deleted from the country’s map by the kings to get favours from India. Analysts in Kathmandu argue that the new map in fact is a document that was in circulation in the country till the 1950s and the territory of Kalapani was given to India by King Mahendra after the 1962 India-China war. Nepali sources have described Kalapani as the core of the border disputes with India.

Also read | New road to Kailash Mansarovar runs into diplomatic trouble

Nepal had also expressed displeasure that the 2015 agreement between India and China for using the Lipulekh pass for trade was reached without consulting it. China, Mr. Oli said in parliament this week, conveyed to Kathmandu that the 2015 agreement with India was about trade and pilgrimage and did not grant Chinese seal of approval to the Indian territory. In a speech to parliament last week, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari announced the decision to publish the new map. The move was endorsed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday and the map was unveiled on Wednesday.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:55:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nepals-new-political-map-claims-indias-territories/article31632033.ece

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