The Kalapani Standoff

”Simhaev Jayate” or ”Satyamev Jayate”, Nepalese Prime Minister
K.P Sharma Oli made this statement asking India to not to go against its motto. This statement was made because India and Nepal have opposing views over the ownership of the territories of LimpiyadhuraKalapani and Lipulekh.
India and Nepal have a special relationship which was initiated by the Indo-Nepal treaty of peace and friendship in 1950. There is an open border between India and Nepal. Nationals of both the countries can move freely across the borders without passports or visas and may also live and work in either country. The relationship got adverse because of some issues such as human trafficking, entrance of Maoist guerrillas into the Indian territory from Nepal and Other Boundary disputes.

The dispute over the Possession of territories of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and  Kalapani has created a major problem in the Indo-Nepal relations.

The dispute over these areas is not a new issue , it dates back to the 19th century Treaty Of Sugauli between the British and the Nepalese Kingdom. The king of Nepal helped the British in suppressing the Indian revolt of 1857,for which Nepal received some parts of its territory back which it had lost after the Anglo-Nepalese war of  1814. According to the treaty, areas which do not lie to the west of the Kali river that flows through the kalapani area do not belong to  India, But there is no mention on the source of the river due to which the area has become a source of altercation. Nepal claims the source of kali river to be on the eastern side in the area of limpiyadhura thus claiming the areas of lipulekh and kalapani as they also lie on the eastern side of the river. Nepal further tried to justify its claims by showing the maps used by the Qing Dynasty of China where the word”Nepal” is scribed on those maps and the maps published by the British which clearly depict kalapani as a Nepalese province.India considers the ridgeline on the eastern side of the kalapani area to be the actual border thus as India claims, kalapani lies in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. India presented it’s tax records and other administrative documents to justify its claims.

Indian inclusion of kalapani in its map has created tumult in Nepal and the opening of a new route by India to Kailash, Mansarovar through the lipulekh pass on May 8th has further degraded India’s relations with Nepal. The opening of this new route by India to Kailash, Mansarovar will reduce the time and effort to reach the pilgrimage site. India considers lipulekh to be on the tri-junction of India, Nepal and China. While Nepal counters India’s dialogue by claiming lipulekh as a part of its own territory. Nepal’s growing relations with China have always been a stumbling block to India. China on it’s race to become a significant figure-head in Asia and to halt India’s ameliorating relations with Nepal has started investing in various economic developmental projects in Nepal. China has also started to play a pivotal role in Nepal’s domestic politics. The Chinese ambassador helped the Nepal Communist Party(NCP) to remain in power after the party faced serious internal rifts in April 2020. Thus,Nepal’s dissatisfaction on the road opened by India through the lipulekh pass was clearly seemed to be instigated by China .

But when the Indian Army ChiefM.M Naravane commented that ”Nepal may have raised these problems at the behest of someone else” , Nepal condemned this statement and Prime Minister Oli asserted that ” everything we do is self guided”.

The dispute over the accession of these territories between India and Nepal date back to 1962 when the Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP) was posted at the border. In 2002 a Bilateral Joint Boundary Committee was formed which aimed at resolving all the pending boundary issues between the two countries. However no progress was gained. In 2014 when the then Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala visited India ,the India-Nepal joint ministerial mechanism was formed to resolve the issues. But the issue is still inconclusive because both the countries refuse to move its troops from the area.Lipulekh and Kalapani areas are strategically and politically very important to India. Since these areas are located on the tri-juncture of India, Nepal and China. India can keep an eye on the movement of People’s Liberation Army(PLA) of China. When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited China in 2015, a number of passes were opened for trade , which includes the Lipulekh pass, thus in a way it also encourages trade and improves Sino-Indian relations to a certain extent. The pass also provides the shortest route to Kailash, Mansarovar from India.

Despite having different interests and opinions, both the countries have worked together to manage a health emergency and Nepal has openly thanked India for providing COVID Testing kits. In these catastrophic times both the countries should first attend to the health scenarios in their respective countries and the ongoing border tensions could be resolved later on. Since India is stronger in terms of Military strength and territory it should show much more benignity as it would be instrumental to India and it would prevent the arbitrators to gain benefit from the situation and two peaceful neighbours can continue their harmonious relations

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