PM Modi in Kathmandu
File photo of PM Narendra Modi with his Nepalese counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli in Kathmandu | PTI
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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has refused to meet Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s special envoy Madhav Kumar Nepal, who was expected to arrive on a trip to New Delhi earlier this week to discuss the contentious issue of Kalapani.

Kalapani is a 35 square kilometre area, which is claimed by both India and Nepal as an integral part of their territories — India as part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of its Darchula district.

Madhav Kumar Nepal, the former PM of the landlocked country and senior leader of the Nepal Communist Party, was expected to visit India to discuss the latest row between New Delhi and Kathmandu over Kalapani, sources told ThePrint.

Nepal was planning to visit New Delhi between 4-5 December and wanted to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge him to “immediately establish” a foreign secretary-level dialogue mechanism to settle the border dispute, the sources said. 

But, they added, the Indian government refused to meet the special envoy.

Nepal eventually cancelled his plan to come to India.

Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said Thursday it has not yet received any response from the Indian side on their request to meet Indian officials.

The high-level dialogue mechanism, consisting of foreign secretaries of both the countries, to settle Kalapani and other issues was finalised by former and late external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Nepal in July 2014. 

However, despite a subsequent visit by PM Modi to Nepal in August in the same year, the mechanism was never put in place, though he gave a renewed push to settle the Kalapani and Susta boundary disputes.

The present dispensation in Nepal has come under massive pressure from the opposition parties to take a firm stand against India over the unsettled issue of Kalapani as well as Susta, which are on the country’s western and eastern borders, respectively.

Ever since India released a new map on 2 November this year, there has been a spate of protests in Nepal over New Delhi’s move to show Kalapani as part of India. Nepalese students, affiliated with opposition party Nepali Congress, were seen burning the new map in front of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

The sources also said the “invisible hand of Beijing” cannot be ruled out in the entire controversy as Kalapani also borders Tibet and, therefore, China is closely monitoring the developments.

Nepal is also part of the mega ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), under which China is planning to build a massive trans-Himalayan railway network in Nepal connecting both the countries.

“If India can solve the boundary issue with Bangladesh, which also included a maritime boundary, then why not with Nepal, with which we have a special and friendly relationship. We have given Bangladesh much more than they needed, then why let the issue fester with Nepal,” asked Jayant Prasad, veteran diplomat and former Indian ambassador to Nepal.

He said he doesn’t see any reason for the Indian government to not solve the border issues. “This (India’s delay in discussing the matter) will only help those who are inimical to India-Nepal friendly ties,” added Prasad.


Also read: India only cares about national interest. And Nepal has been at the receiving end of it


Kalapani adds to deteriorating bilateral ties

The issue of Kalapani and Susta continue to sour the ties between the two neighbours, which have been “drastically declining” since the Madhesi agitation, according to the sources.

Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched an agitation between September 2015 and February 2016 against the implementation of the new Constitution, which they felt marginalised the Terai community. 

Thus, while New Delhi has been pushing Kathmandu to sign the border agreement at the diplomatic level, the Oli government has refused to do so, which has irked India because it believes Nepal still has questions on it, the sources said.

“India has asked Nepal many times to sign the initial agreement, but they have refused to do so. There is an established mechanism at the level of foreign secretary that can be activated in which this issue and other outstanding issues can be resolved,” said Ranjit Rae, who was India’s ambassador to Nepal from 2013 to 2017.

Last month, Ambassador of Nepal to India Nilamber Acharya met Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and handed over a document on how the Oli administration views the Kalapani issue. He had also requested an urgent meeting to be convened on the matter. 

The main difference between India and Nepal over the Kalapani issue is regarding the source of Mahakali river. While New Delhi believes the river originates from Kalapani, which is in Uttarakhand, Nepal says the source is Lipulekh, a Himalayan pass near a trijunction point between India, Nepal and China. 

As part of the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, the British had demarcated the river in Nepal’s western border. 

(Edited by Debalina Dey)


Also read: How a wildlife conservation pact between India and Nepal can boost their bilateral ties


 

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9 Comments Share Your Views

9 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps Nepal has forgotten they are also included in Mao’s five finger strategy…….. They created this hype on 2015……And they were sleeping till 2014!!!…… It’s all about by Oli’s Anti- India propaganda by which he elected…..Yes in 2015 there was a miscommunication that caused Artificial blockade……… It’s a fact that Chinese Hegemony has increased in Nepal……How a Chinese ambassador can handle Nepal’s foreign policy openly (not secretly or by any intelligence agency)???…..…. What about Rui village?……..Are they blind?…….. But we are still optimistic that our brotherhood will strong again if Oli gone (98% border disputes have been solved already)……. Because we have such experience what happened with Srilanka & Maldives………

  2. It is a false Narrative to say that China is playing a role in this dispute. It is simply an easy way to deter from the issue. This issue would always arise sooner or later this was always left in the backburner by India. India always knew the Truth that they had altered the Map which shows Kali River at wrong place to propel their Narrative it is clear even now when they refuse to meet Nepal’s Envoy. If we do a fair trial with all the evidence that territory does belong to Nepal it was given to India during Indo China war by Nepal’s King Mahendra it was only given as a goodwill during war it has never been returned back. Nepalese have always known this since decades it was just that Government and Politics was too unstable to bring up these issues. Because of the Civil war and Murder of King Birendra and His Family all planned by CIA and RAW to make unstability in Nepal. Sooner or Later Karma will strike and there will be justice Truth can never be hidden for long. It is in your National Emblem India ‘Satya Meva Jayate’ Truth shall always prevail.

  3. This all started in Rajiv Gandhi regime,when he delayed renewal of 1956 indo nepal treaty .he put restrictions on goods transport to nepal& they suffered lot of hardships & thereafter nepal inclined towards china for alternetive passage for transit of goods & imports.Eventually it fell in the trap of BRI without realising its long term loss like Sri Lanka is repenting now. Now it is too late & Nepal is being swallowed by dragon. So far nepal was safe but if it continues to oppose us in all forums ,we can not patronize always.

  4. Communist Nepal is very Anti-India and we should show them their place, any ways Nepal is not siding with India and was one of the few countries to talk against Article 370. Nepal should see the heat of bigger unhappy neighbor. They can’t cozy up with China and believe India won’t pinch it where it hurts.

    What’s the point of friendship if it’s of no use. Not to forget, ISI has a good network in Nepal and it’s cant happen without local support.

  5. It is Nepali territory since the Sugauli treaty with the British India and has been ever since but just because Nepal was accommodating to Indian forces during India China war of 60s doesn’t give India to be an occupation force forever.

    Like the denial of blockades do not become the truth just because the the Indian government mouth pieces keep repeating the lie every time they open their trap.

    Please do not piss behind our back and try to convince that it’s raining. India is a possible supper power of the future so start behaving like one towards your neighbours. Don’t just look at the US and other western countries and try to trample your weaker neighbours thinking nothing about them. Charity begins at home.

  6. Not being able to carry South Asia with us does not strengthen our case for a permanent seat. Existing members – other than China – would ask, in a perfectly reasonable voice : What do you bring to the table, led by peacemaking skills, which are so important in this Chamber …

  7. The dispute over Kalapani one does not understand. However, it is a pity that relations with Nepal have been so strained since about 2015. China is more than happy to take up the slack.

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