Nepal Includes Disputed Indian Territories in New Map

  • In mid-May, the Nepalese government decided to include the disputed territories Kalapani and Lipulekh on its map.
  • India had offered diplomatic talks on Nepal's claim to the territory but India had not responded.
  • Delhi has informed Kathmandu that it will discuss disputed territory after the coronavirus crisis is met.

Nepal’s parliament has unanimously approved amendments to the country’s constitution to set a new political map and a new national symbol. The new map and symbol will now officially display Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhaura as the territory of Nepal, under the Sugauli Treaty of 1817.

There are two existing territorial disputes between India and Nepal, over the Kalapani territory, a 400 square kilometres (150 sq mi) area at the India-Nepal-China border in North West Nepal, and Susta a 140 square kilometres (54 sq mi) area in Southern Nepal.

India has, however, continually rejected that claim. In mid-May, the Nepalese government decided to include the disputed territories Kalapani and Lipulekh on its map. After a cabinet meeting, government spokesman and finance minister Yuvraj Khatiwada said the new map would be used in school-college textbooks, government symbols, and all office-court documents from now on.

After the proposal to amend the constitution was passed on Tuesday night, the members clapped at the table for a long time, as usual. Now, with the approval of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the amendments to the constitution will officially take effect.

During the debate in Parliament on the revision of Nepal’s map and symbol, External Affairs Minister Pradeep Gawali expressed concern and frustration over Delhi’s non-cooperation. Gawali said that India had offered diplomatic talks on Nepal’s claim to the territory but India had not responded.

“We are a little disappointed because we have not received any response to the offer to discuss the border dispute,” he said. “If India and China can settle their disputes, then why can’t Nepal and India do that. I believe the desired talks can be started very soon.”

Delhi has informed Kathmandu that it will discuss disputed territory after the coronavirus crisis is met. According to local Nepali newspapers, Kathmandu has requested Delhi to hold a video conference at the Foreign Secretary-level to build mutual trust. However, Delhi’s position on the issue is not yet clear.

The Republic of India and the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal initiated their relationship with the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship and accompanying secret letters that defined security relations between the two countries, and an agreement governing both bilateral trade and trade transiting Indian territory. Since late 2015, political issues and border disputes have strained relations between the two countries with anti-Indian sentiment growing amongst the government and people of Nepal.

According to the news sources, three recent steps taken by India have played a role in the Nepalese government’s decision. Last year, India released a new political map showing these two disputed lands as part of their territory.

On March 8, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a link road between Pithauragarh and Lipulekh, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. India’s Chief of Army Staff Manoj Naravan later commented that the Nepalese government had objected to the link road “on someone else’s instructions.”

Nepal and India have more than 16,000 km of an open border. There are disputes between the two countries over several places. Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Susta are among the territories at the center of the dispute.

Nepal and India have been discussing these issues for a long time. At the Prime Minister’s level, the two countries agreed that these border issues would be resolved at a meeting of secretaries, although no such meeting has taken place so far.

Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhaura are located in the northwestern part of Nepal. Kumaon, in India, is to the south, and Tibet, in China, to the north. The territory is a crossroads of three countries— India, Nepal, and China— which are considered strategically important.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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