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The Curious Case Of Kalapani River: Has India, Nepal Relationship Hit A New Low?

The Curious Case Of Kalapani River: Has India, Nepal Relationship Hit A New Low?

The Curious Case Of Kalapani River: Has India, Nepal Relationship Hit A New Low?

Despite the close linguistic, marital, religious, and cultural ties between Indians and Nepalese, political issues and border disputes have strained relations between the two countries since late 2015. And the tensions related to the borders have spiked in the past few weeks, particularly in Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani.

On 20 May 2020, Kathmandu officially released a new map showing the disputed territories of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani within its borders. Prime Minister of Nepal KP Sharma Oli moved to the parliament seeking an amendment in their constitution in order to incorporate the new political and administrative map of the country. As a result, high-ranking officials and ministers of both India and Nepal came with their side of stories.

What Is Nepal Claiming?

India and Nepal share 1,800 km open border. The Lipulekh Pass is claimed by Nepal based on Treaty of Sugauli, which was signed in 1816. The Lipulekh pass is a far western point situated near Kalapani which is a disputed border area between India and Nepal. Both countries claim Kalapani as their territorial part. India claims it to be the part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district while Nepal considers it to be the part of their Dharchula district.

Also Read: Amid Border Tensions, Nepal PM Says “Indian Coronavirus More Lethal Than Chinese Virus”

Further, tensions escalated in 2015, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his visit to China and released a joint statement to hold the negotiations to enhance the trade between the two countries via Lipulekh Pass. The tension between India and Nepal arose back in November 2019 when New Delhi published a revised political map showing Kalapani as its territory along with the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The tension between the two neighbours deepened when on May 8, when Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Darchula- Lipulekh pass Link Road. The matter escalated more further when the government of Nepal released a new map showing disputed territories as part of their land, to which, India responded as ‘unjustified cartographic assertion’.

Issues Regarding Kali river:

There are two steams of “Kali” river. Nepal claims that western steam is the original Kali river and India claims that the eastern stream is the original Kali river. If we go back in history, then some maps show the eastern stream as the border and some maps show western stream as the border. But India has continued to maintain that the eastern stream is the main Kali River.

Nepal claims the land west of the Kali river under 1816 Sugauli Treaty and refers to the maps issued by the British Surveyor General of India in 1827 and 1856. But India claims a river Pankhagad, to the south of Kalapani to be the true border and presents the tax records and other administrative and historical documents. The dispute is unresolved since 1962 when Indo-Tibetan Border Police were posted after the India-China war.

disputed territory
(Photo credit: Nikkei Asian Review)

Nepal’s Diplomatic Shift From India To China

Nepal, which is a landlocked nation, is situated between the two powerhouses, has signalled a subtle geopolitical shift from India to China in the past few years. Nepal has traditionally been dependent on its southern neighbour India, through which around 65% of its trade passes.

Nepal was crucially dependent on India for trade till 2015 when protesters from the Madhesi ethnic community (Terai region) that the constitution of Nepal, which was formed in the year 2015, discriminated against them. As part of their protests, they blocked key checkpoints and prevented the passage of essential goods from India.

Also Read: Nepal Delays Amendment For Updating New Political Map; Will Relations With India Improve?

The Nepali government criticised the Government of India for supporting and sympathizing with the Madhesi protest and abetting the blockade, which resulted in a huge loss and crippled Nepal with a shortage of fuel, medicines and other supplies.

As relations with India soured, Nepal’s northern neighbour China came to its rescue. The deals signed between Nepal and China, made Kathmandu realise the importance of diversifying its trade away from India. Geopolitical implications and development have been constant and dynamic aspects of Nepal’s foreign policy respectively.

Rising Nationalism In Nepal

Oli came into power by playing the card of Nationalism. He used anti-India card during his election campaign in 2017. Prime Minister is not able to contribute much to Nepal since his victory and is therefore in constant pressure of his own party. This is the prominent reason the Prime Minister of Nepal is using constitution and nationalism as one of his philosophy to remain in power.

The ruling party in Nepal is constantly trying to create a wave of nationalism by giving anti-India statements for their failures. This not so mature strategy of Nepali government is affecting its relationship with its southern neighbour, India. This will not only affect the Trade but also bilateral relations between the two countries.

Nepal’s main Opposition party, the Nepali Congress, has extended its support to Prime Minister KP Oli’s move to provide a constitutional accord to the new map delineating Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani under its territory. The Nepali Congress has decided to vote in favour of the Constitution amendment bill put forth by the government in Parliament to update the new political map of the country.

The party took the crucial decision at a meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) during which the panel directed the party lawmakers to vote in favour of the proposal to amend the Constitution to change the country’s map in the national emblem.

Will Nepal Climb Down?

Nepal after long phase and struggle has a politically stable government, and in this particular dispute, Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli is in “no climb down” position. It has been a subject of national dignity primarily because of Nepal’s sovereignty, and territorial integrity, but also as a product of nationalism in people.

The area India is claiming poses strategic importance because of the tri-juncture of Nepal-India-China in Lipulekh and Kalapani, and the presence of military depicts the importance of the land to India. Thus, Nepal-India should have a long-term vision of what kind of relations both the countries want. займ на яндекс кошелек без картызайм онлайн срочно с плохой кредитной историейвзять займ онлайн срочно без отказа нужен займзайм главфинансзайм на счет онлайн

Mahima Joshi

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