Friday, 14 August, 2020

Strong Political Unity

AS India has kept ignoring frequent requests made by Nepal to sit for dialogue in order to resolve the border issues, the country's major political parties, including ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), have stood united to get back the encroached territories from the southern neighbour. On Tuesday, Minister for Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shivamaya Tumbahamphe tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives for discussion. Lawmakers and leaders of all parliamentary parties representing the Federal Parliament extended their support to the government in this connection. The government has taken this move to amend the constitution and update the new political and administrative map of Nepal as well as the Coat of Arms. The government recently unveiled the new map after India formally opened a link road that passes through Nepal’s Lipulek area. Many historical documents and evidences, including the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 clearly show that the territories lying to the east of the Kali River belong to Nepal. But India has been occupying Nepali territories of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulek for decades.

It may be recalled here that the dispute had resurfaced after India released its new political map incorporating these territories in early November last year. Nepal strongly opposed the objectionable steps taken by India through diplomatic notes. The Government of Nepal had also proposed dates twice for holding foreign secretary level meeting to sort out the issues. But, India has been snubbing the proposal on one pretext or other. However, India has initiated to hold dialogue with China to sort out their border disputes in Ladhakh. Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has aptly said India had undermined the sovereignty of Nepal by snubbing requests to sit for dialogue. Speaking at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Minister Gyawali said that India had published a map claiming Nepali territories and constructing a road through Nepali land unilaterally. Defending Nepal's fresh initiative to bring out a new map including Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulek, he said that it was a symbolic step towards returning the encroached land. Nepal has been trying for the mapping of the land east of the Kali River since 1981. But India has not allowed the survey teams to go up from Kuti.

Minister Gyawali said that Nepal has claimed the land demarcated by the Sugauli Treaty. Since Nepal has not sought India’s land, the dispute can be resolved easily once India accepts the key historical documents. But India does not seem to be sincere when it comes to dealing with the border issues with Nepal. The double standard shown by it frequently indicates to this. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unwillingness to receive the report of the Eminent Persons' Group (EPG) could be a glaring example. Almost two years have elapsed since the EPG prepared its report on Nepal-India Relations. It was an eight-member team that included four members each from Nepal and India. The report incorporates vital recommendations for enhancing the bilateral relations between the two close neighbours The Indian leadership must express its broadmindedness by resolving the border issues without foot dragging. 

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