India-Nepal has rising tensions near Lipulekh pass. Why? Where is it a...
Jun 22, 2020
India-Nepal has rising tensions near Lipulekh pass. Why? Where is it and also discuss why is Lipulekh pass important?
Lipulekh Pass is a high altitude mountain pass situated in the western Himalayas with an extraordinary height of 5,334 metre or 17,500 feet. It is an International mountain pass between India, China and Nepal.
Protests erupted in Nepal a fortnight ago over India opened a link road to Lipulekh.
Nepal claims that the Indian army has encroached 372 square kilometres towards Limpiyadhura from Kalapani since the 1962 Indo-China war.
At that time, Nepal, as a friendly neighbour, granted permission to the Indian army to set up a camp in the region.
The Himalayas have several passes that connect the Gangetic region with the Tibetan plateau but Lipulekh is strategically located as it is nearest to the heart of the Indian state or the National Capital Region (NCR) and can be of particular concern in case of an armed conflict with China.
The importance of Himalayan passes with the Tibetan plateau was amply highlighted in the 1962 war.
During that war, Chinese forces used the pass of Se La in Tawang and reached the Brahmaputra plains in the east.
The military defeat in the east clearly demonstrated that weakly guarded passes were a major vulnerability of Indian military preparedness against China. In comparison to Se La which was somewhat fortified, Lipulekh is vulnerable.
The region in Uttarakhand lies in the Himalayas and is connected to the other side of the mountain range through the Lipulekh pass, which has been used for centuries by Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims and tourists on their way to Kailash Mansarovar.
The nearby markets have been used by various mountain communities.
As per a former Indian Ambassador to Nepal the region was always a part of India and India’s claims to the area are based on British Indian maps dating back to the 19th century.
When pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar paused with the takeover of Tibet by Chinese forces in the mid-1950s, India deployed troops at the Lipulekh pass in 1959.
India and China were in clear violation of Nepal’s concerns during the 2015 Lipulekh agreement between India and China which renewed India’s Mansarovar pilgrimage connection.
Neither side consulted Nepal or sought its opinion before that agreement that boosted pilgrimage and trade to Tibet.
Nepal has published a revised official map incorporating the territory from the Limpiyadhura source of the Kali to Kalapani and Lipulekh pass in the northeast of the triangular region as its territory.