The border trouble between India and Nepal is a matter which should be...
Jun 16, 2020
The border trouble between India and Nepal is a matter which should be best handled bilaterally, through quiet diplomacy. Examine the statement in the context of recent turbulence between India and Nepal.
The inauguration of a road from Dharchula to Lipu Lekh (China border) by India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been claimed by Nepal as the stretch that passes through Nepalese territory.
This road follows the traditional pilgrim route for the Kailash-Mansarovar yatra.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police is also located in Kalapani since it is close to the India-China border. Indian forces are not there because of Nepal.
The Nepalese government has raised the stakes further and has made a negotiated settlement more complex by authorising a new map extending its territory across an area sensitive for India’s defence.
The boundary delineation has a long history. Before the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, the Nepalese kingdom stretched from the Sutlej river in the west to the Teesta river in the East.
Nepal lost the Anglo-Nepalese War and the resulting Treaty limited Nepal to its present territories.
The present controversy has arisen since the Nepalese contest that the tributary that joins the Mahakali river at Kalapani is not the Kali river. Nepal now contends that the Kali river lies further west to the Lipu Lekh pass.
The British used the Lipu Lekh pass for trade with Tibet and China.
The Survey of India maps since the 1870s showed the area of Lipu Lekh down to Kalapani as part of British India. Both the Rana rulers of Nepal and the Nepalese Kings accepted the boundary and did not raise any objection with the government of India after India’s Independence.
India did not exist in 1816 when the Treaty of Sugauli was concluded. And India’s present borders, not just with Nepal, but with many of its other neighbours, were drawn by the erstwhile British regime. India inherited the boundaries of British India. It cannot now unravel the historic past.
India has successfully resolved far more intractable border issues with Bangladesh not so long ago, covering both the land and maritime boundaries.
With regard to Nepal, the way to move forward is to formally approve the strip maps, resolve the two remaining disputes, demarcate the entire India-Nepal boundary, and speedily execute the work of boundary maintenance.
The people-to-people relationship between India and Nepal is unmatched. It is the government-to-government relationship that generally lags. There is nobody in India that wishes ill for Nepal.
The Official Spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, has said recently that India and Nepal have an established mechanism to deal with all boundary matters.
It has affirmed that India is committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue, in the spirit of India’s close and friendly bilateral relations with Nepal. The best is to activate the existing mechanisms as soon as possible, before any further damage is done.
The more the trouble festers, those who stand to gain by deteriorating India-Nepal relations will benefit.
There is need for the two countries to lower the temperature and defuse the issue. They must invest time and effort to find a solution. Raking up public controversy can only be counterproductive to the relationship.