- India's Defense Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 90-km long road on Friday.
- According to Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, India's move is against the agreement reached between the two countries on resolving the border dispute.
- Nepal is trying to reduce its dependence on India, and is competing for the attention of both the U.S. and China.
Nepal has strongly objected to a road project connecting India and China. AFP reported that dozens of protesters gathered in front of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu Saturday, despite a nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus. Police had to arrest them to maintain security.
India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 90-km long road on Friday. This road connects Ghatiyabagarh, in the state of Uttarakhand, to the Lipulekh Pass in the Himalayan region. In a statement issued on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that all areas, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani, and Lipulek on the eastern side of the Mahakali River, are part of Nepal on the basis of the Sugauli Treaty of 1816.
Nepal is also ready to understand the report of the ASEAN Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG), a group of enlightened people from Nepal and India. Although a unanimous report has been prepared on various aspects of Nepal-India relations, including the Sugauli Treaty, the report has stalled, as India has not given time to understand it. The statement also mentioned two important diplomatic notes:
- First, after China and India agreed to trade through Lipulek in 2015, diplomatic notes were sent to both countries, stating that they did not agree to it.
- Second, the new political map, released by India last year disagreed, stating that a diplomatic note had been sent to India stating that Lipulek belonged to Nepal.
According to Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, India’s move is against the agreement reached between the two countries on resolving the border dispute, on the basis of mutual understanding at the Prime Ministerial level. The government has also urged India not to carry out any activities on Nepali soil.
Former administrator Suryanath Upadhyaya, who coordinated the task force formed to study Lipulec and Susta, said the latest Indian move was a clear indication that he would not give up his claim based on the map he had issued.
“India’s hegemonic and expansionist policy is already there. It should be seen in that context. Nepal should now internationalize the issue. It should take it to the UN General Assembly. It should also talk to China,” he said. “After peaceful diplomacy fails to work, Nepal must take active diplomatic initiatives.”
It is very important to take an interest in China in this Hindu-majority nation. Nepal is dependent on India for its many needs, but it is constantly trying to reduce its dependence on India. In 2017, China signed an agreement with Nepal on bilateral cooperation for its Belt and Road project.
During this time, China also agreed to build cross-border economic zones in Nepal, expand railways, and help in the construction of highways, airports, and other projects. It has also been made mandatory to read the Chinese language, Mandarin, in many schools in Nepal. The government of China is also ready to bear the expenses of the salary of teachers teaching this language in Nepal.
Of course, not only China, but America is also constantly trying to get close to Nepal. On the one hand, while China is running its Belt and Road project, the US is working on the Indo-Pacific policy. Ever since the formation of the Communist Party government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, the United States and China have been vying for Nepal’s attention.