Amid the ongoing boundary dispute between Kathmandu and Delhi, Nepal’s House of Representative on Saturday unanimously cleared a constitutional amendment revising the map on its coat of arms to include the areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, a move that India has termed as “untenable”.
Responding to the development, India’s Ministry of External Affairs released a statement maintaining that the constitution amendment bill for changing the map of Nepal included parts of Indian Territory and is violative of the current understanding to talks on outstanding boundary issues between the two neighbouring countries.
“We have already made our position clear on this matter. This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also a part of Indian territory,” said the MEA official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
The constitutional amendment bill was passed after the votes of all 258 Nepali lawmakers present in the meeting. From here, the bill will go through the upper house of the Parliament, later to be signed by Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari. During the Nepal Parliamentary session on Saturday, PM KP Sharma Oli was reportedly asked by the lawmakers to take further steps to reclaim control of Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura from its neighbouring country.
Significantly, India reiterated its previous stand from last month after the Nepali cabinet approved a new political map which included the three areas within its territorial borders. In May, India had maintained that the revised map of Nepal was an “unjustified cartographic assertion”, asking the neighbouring country to respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Indian MEA had also asserted the Nepalese leadership to create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues. At the same time, Nepal’s foreign ministry has contended that India has been unresponsive to its call for holding foreign secretary-level talks over the boundary dispute.
However, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday claimed that newly-constructed link road till Lipulekh Pass is very much in Indian territory, adding that the Modi government is believed in sorting out the “misunderstanding” in relations with Nepal through dialogue. During a virtual rally, the Defence Minister highlighted the deep ties between the two countries, asserting that no power in the world can break it.
The Indo-Nepal boundary issues escalated after the inauguration of a link road from Uttarakhand’s Dharchula district till Lipulekh by India on May 8. The Nepal government had questioned the construction of the link road, submitting that territories east of Mahakali river which include “Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and LipuLekh” are part of its territorial border, according to the 1816 Sugauli Treaty.
Furthermore, in November 2019, India had issued a new political map in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 following which the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was split into two newly formed Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. In the map, Kalapani was included into the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, which was highly objected by Nepal.