Talks On With Nepal To Resolve Tensions After Its Reported Attempts To Usurp Land At Border In Uttarakhand's Champawat

Talks On With Nepal To Resolve Tensions After Its Reported Attempts To Usurp Land At Border In Uttarakhand's Champawat Champawat district officials on a border inspection visit in May 2020.
Snapshot
  • A few Nepalese citizens tried to usurp land near the Indian border by planting saplings and installing wooden pillars.

    Locals say while relations between the two peoples have been warm so far, the aggression is possibly owing to Chinese influence.

Tensions arose on the India-Nepal border in Uttarakhand last week after a few Nepalese citizens tried to put a fence in an area which is no man’s land.

They reportedly planted some saplings around a missing pillar in no man's land in an area into the Indian side in Tanakpur, Champawat district.

They, reportedly, erected some wooden pillars in the area and claimed that the land belonged to them.

The news of encroachment saw the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Champawat district authorities taking up the matter with the APF and the Nepalese local authorities.

Both sides swung into talks.

Superintendent of Police, Champawat, Lokeshwar Singh, told Swarajya over phone that the SSB team inspected the area on Saturday.

When the Champawat local authorities got to know about the fencing and the plantation work which was under way, the SSB commandant and the Champawat authorities went to the site.

Discussions were held with the Nepalese counterparts.

The Nepalese side assured the SSB and the Champawat district authorities that they would remove the fencing and the plants.

The assurances from the Nepalese side, however, did not bear action.

Reportedly, the matter escalated when some Nepalese citizens threw a few stones at the SSB staff.

The SSB has reportedly denied the incident.

Singh adds, "We spoke to the local authorities. We expressed our apprehensions against the emerging situation. We have placed our concerns."

Champawat district authorities told the Nepalese district authorities that it was not in their mandate to speak with the Nepalese people and that the APF and Nepalese authorities must speak with their people on what has been going on.

The Nepalese authorities have also been told to raise the issue with the Nepalese people.

On Sunday morning, they inspected the site.

There will probably be a joint meeting between the two sides on the matter in a couple of days, Singh told Swarajya.

The Uttarakhand part of the India-Nepal border has seen tensions growing during the last few months.

The impact, as per local authorities and residents, is visible in Champawat and Pithoragarh districts that share borders with the neighbouring country.

Locals believe that the tense situation is the outcome of the dispute, and there is no clear demarcation of the border between the two countries.

The local authorities as well as the residents believe that such incidents are being propped by some Nepalese citizens amid the rising tensions — in the backdrop of a hostile attitude from the anti-India communist leaders and the communist regime in Nepal.

A Hindustan Times report mentions that the SSB officials "suspect a bigger conspiracy behind the act of Nepalese locals."

The report adds that the SSB has stepped up patrolling in the area.

It quotes an SSB officer as saying: "This is certainly done with the backing of their administration and police. Without that, they will never dare carry out such an act. We have also got inputs that the Nepalese locals got funds from their administration for the fencing. This was also corroborated by a Nepalese local present on Thursday who was involved in erecting the pillars".

Talks are on between the two sides on the removal of the encroachment. In the background of the escalating tensions, Champawat's district administration has registered a protest on the issue before the chief district officer (known as the CDO — equivalent to the Indian district magistrate) of Kanchanpur district in Nepal.

Champawat district administration has also apprised the Indian Embassy in Nepal of the issue.

Singh told Swarajya that the Nepalese and the Indian authorities have been cooperating with each other on all matters, including the well being of the people during the ongoing Covid-19 scenario.

The district administrations on both sides are trying to resolve the matter. The effort is to not let the matter escalate within the public on both sides.

The Champawat district administration, and people, pointedly mention the good relations between the local authorities on both sides.

Singh adds, "We have had very good cooperation with the Nepalese authorities. From our border — the immigration check post saw around 36,000 Nepalis crossing."

In the wake of the complete lockdown that was announced in India to fight Covid-19, at one point, there were around a 1,000 Nepalese people staying in Champawat district.

Singh adds, "We were taking care of them. Similarly, there were a lot of Indians stuck there, in Kanchanpur and other Nepali districts and they were also being taken good care of. There were times when the Indians were stuck in Nepal, and we would talk to the local authorities and they would cooperate with us."

He mentions that the Nepalese authorities have been very helpful.

"It was similar on our side. Whenever they had issues, we were very cooperative. Even now the relationship is cooperative. We speak on a regular basis everyday and we have a very friendly relationship. But kuchh log hote hee hain beech mein jo thhoda...", he says, hoping we get the picture.

The HT report mentions an official saying that the "Nepalese locals were also in an inebriated condition and were abusing Indian officials during the meeting while raising anti-India slogans before the APF personnel.

This shows that the APF and Nepal local administration are hand-in-glove with them.

Ravi Kumar, a local resident in Champawat district, told Swarajya over the phone that there have been incidents of some people on the Nepalese side creating trouble in an inebriated condition during late evening and the night in the Brahmadev area.

Barring such incidents, he said, the situation has been peaceful between the Indian and the Nepalis, who share a "roti-beti ke sambandh".

Kumar points out how this perception seems to be changing, suddenly, on the Nepali side.

He sees it in the backdrop of China's recent aggression against India.

He says, "China ki jo dustakhi ki gayee thhee, usmein yeh jo dikahaya ja raha hai, is tarah ki baatein samajh se pare hain (these developments are slightly hard to understand). Achraj ki hain (it is a matter of surprise). China ki shay mil kar wo do muhi baat kar ke bigad raha hai."

He adds that fellow Indians are registering the changing attitude towards India, in the recent actions from some Nepalese people.

He, however, believes that resolving the matter through talks will prove fruitful for the harmony that exists between the people of Nepal and India in Champawat, and particularly the Brahmadev area.

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