Sunday, 5 December, 2021

Diplomatic offensive a must to solve Kalapani issue


CK Khanal

India, Nepal’s southern neighbour that is 22 times bigger than the latter, has once again shown its hegemonic character. India recently published a map that includes Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura located in Darchula district of the far-west Nepal. The unilateral move has undermined Nepal’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, triggering public outcry and indignation in Nepal. This has generated a new wave of patriotic sentiments among Nepalis. The controversial has fanned the anti-Indian feelings among Nepali people, which was in declining trend with the bilateral thaw between the two neighbours. The 2015 Indian blockade had deeply hurt Nepali people.

Flawed map
Political parties, general people and social organisations are continuously protesting the flawed Indian map in different parts of the country. Nepali politicians and political parties, who were focusing on agenda of economic development and prosperity after the settlement of prolonged transition and internal mismanagement, have now been engaged in saving territorial integrity from its neighbour. All politicians, diplomats and experts have said that the Klapani area which includes Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura has been Nepal’s territory as per historical facts and evidences and the country should not leave one inch of land.
An all-party meeting of top political leaders and experts, called by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, recently give the mandate to the government for the high level diplomatic talks with India to return Nepal’s land encroached by the former.
Border expert Buddhi Narayan Shrestha said that there were many evidences and facts which support that Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura belong to Nepal. “The historic maps including that of 1827 and 1856, published by the British Survey of India, show that the Western boundary of Nepal extends up to Limpiyadhura, and the river originating from this point is named as ‘River Kalee,” Shrestha said in his article.
Similarly, the ‘Old Atlas of China,’ published during the Qing Dynasty (1903), depicts, in Chinese characters, Limpiyadhura as the source of the Kali River. The word ‘Nepal’ is scribed in the map for the north-eastern part of the river, Shrestha said.
Limpiyadhura is the border point between Nepal and India as per Sugauli Treaty. Lipulek Pass is located at the Nepal-China borderline. However, Indian paramilitary forces had occupied Lipulekh Pass since 1962 after the Sino-India border war, Shrestha said.
Senior journalist and expert Bhairab Risal said that National Census of 2018 B.S. (1961 AD) served the strong evidence that Kalapani area is Nepal’s sovereign territory. “I myself was deployed for the national census in that area at that time,” Risal said, adding that there was no presence of Indian paramilitary forces then and Nepali census team had conducted the survey without any problems.
Presenting another evidence, the then British governor had, in a letter, asked the people of the Kalapani region to pay land tax to Nepal government, stating that territory belonged to Nepal as per the Sugauli, he said.
According to Risal, India has cast an evil eye on Kalapani area owing to its a strategic importance and Indian military forces set up their camp here after being chased by Chinese troops. However, no Nepali government took initiative to remove the Indian forces and get back the land despite knowing the fact that it is an inalienable part of Nepal.
“The inclusion of Kalapani area in its newly published map demonstrates India’s tendency to dominate and bully a small country like Nepal,” added Risal.
Risal said that the government should not only rely on the diplomatic channels to resolve the issue, as such initiative had already failed to produce desired result. He suggested holding high level political dialogue with India to resolve the issue and Nepal should internationalise the issue if it was not resolved through the bilateral talk.
“However, I believe that the Indian government will not go far, impelling Nepal to urge international community to resolve the border issue.”
Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has also said that the government should start a high-level political dialogue as the technical and bureaucratic mechanisms had failed to resolve the long-standing disputes. He said that Nepal could resolve it with India as the latter amicably settled similar problem with Bangladesh.
He said that it was the right time to resolve the issues through high level talks with India as the country had sorted out all its internal problems. He stressed on conducting talks with India very wisely with sufficient evidences and data. Former foreign minister Ramesh Nath Pandey has said that it was a long-running territorial dispute that should be resolved soon, with both the countries having strong government to do so.

High hopes
After getting the mandate from all side meeting, the Prime Minister has said that the government has started homework to start talks through diplomatic channels to resolve the issue.Riled by the domineering attitude of India, Nepalis are eagerly waiting for the government’s effective diplomacy.
This time, hopes are running high given that Prime Minister Oli rose to power on the plank of nationalism during the three tiers election in 2017. Oli stood up to the Indian blockade and he is expected to display similar verve and vitality to return Nepal’s territory illegally claimed by India.
(Khanal is a TRN journalist)