Controversy Over Lipulekh Rages In Nepal

by PTI - Jan 16, 2022 01:40 PM +05:30 IST
Controversy Over Lipulekh Rages In Nepal Lipulekh in a map

Kathmandu, Jan 15 (PTI) The Indian Embassy on Saturday said that India’s position on its boundary with Nepal is well known, consistent and unambiguous amidst discontent within the Opposition parties here over reports claiming that the Indian government is undertaking construction activities in areas that Nepal has included in its map.

The statement of the Indian Embassy here came days after Nepal’s main Opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) urged Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to speak up on the boundary issue and make its position clear on Lipulekh.

“The UML unwaveringly believes that construction of roads and other structures should be stopped. The issue should be promptly resolved through dialogue and no structure should be built at the state level until resolution is reached through dialogue,” read the statement issued by Rajan Bhattarai, the UML’s foreign department head.

In response to media queries over the recent reports and statements in Nepal on the question of the India-Nepal boundary, the spokesperson of the Indian Embassy said: “The Government of India’s position on the India-Nepal boundary is well known, consistent and unambiguous. It has been communicated to the Government of Nepal”.

“It is our view that the established inter-governmental mechanisms and channels are most appropriate for communication and dialogue.

“Mutually agreed boundary issues that are outstanding can always be addressed in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations,” it emphasised.

Other political parties which raised concern on the issue include the Bibeksheel Sajha Nepali, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and the ruling coalition partner, CPN (Unified Socialist).

On Friday, the ruling Nepali Congress said that India's move to continue its road construction in Lipulekh is “objectionable”.

Reiterating that Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura are Nepali territories, the party urged India to immediately withdraw its troops stationed in the Kalapani region and amicably resolve the border row through high-level dialogue based on historical facts and evidence.

'We are clear about the fact that Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani lie within Nepalese territory and Indian Army must return from Kalapani area,' the Nepali Congress (NC) party said in a statement.

The border dispute between Nepal and India must be resolved on the basis of the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, it said.

According to Nepalese authorities, the Sugauli Treaty says that territories that lie west of the Mahakali River belong to Nepal.

“The construction of road in Lipulekh by India unilaterally violates the clause mentioned in Nepal-India Joint Commission which mentions that any dispute between the two countries should be resolved through diplomatic mechanism,' says the statement signed by Nepali Congress general secretaries Bishwo Prakash Sharma and Gagan Thapa.

The “construction of road by India in Lipulekh violating the bilateral agreement is serious and objectionable and must be stopped immediately,” it said.

There exist age-old historical relations between the two countries. So, any type of border issue between the two countries should be resolved through high level diplomatic means on the basis of historical documents, the NC said.

In November last year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand that there was an attempt to create misapprehensions in Nepal about a road from Lipulekh Pass to Mansarovar through Dharchula that was inaugurated by him recently.

Union Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt also claimed that pilgrims will soon be able to visit Kailash-Mansarovar by car as Rs 60 crore has been sanctioned by the Centre to upgrade the border road from Ghatiabagar to Lipulekh into a metalled one.

Singh last month reiterated that the route to Mansarovar via Lipulekh pass has been cleared.

The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a 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.

The bilateral ties came under strain under then prime minister K P Sharma Oli after India opened an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8, 2020.

Nepal first protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory, and days later, it came out with a new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories. India reacted sharply to the move.

However, in June 2020, Nepal's Parliament approved the new political map of the country featuring areas which India maintains belong to it.

After Nepal released the map, India criticised the move, calling it a 'unilateral act' and cautioning Kathmandu that such 'artificial enlargement' of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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