New Delhi: Nepal’s attempt to change its constitution to reflect its controversial new political map is aimed at “furthering the political agenda” of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, an Indian official said Monday, also urging Kathmandu to create a “conducive atmosphere” for bilateral talks.
The official said while India had offered to hold foreign secretary-level talks over videoconference before the bill was to be tabled in the lower house of the Nepalese parliament, there was no discussion held between prime ministers Oli and Narendra Modi.
“We only have an outstanding issue on the boundary question with Nepal in two areas, Kalapani in Uttarakhand and Susta in Bihar… We have always responded positively to the offer of talks. The onus is now on PM Oli to create a positive and conducive atmosphere for any further dialogue,” said the official, who refused to be identified.
On 20 May, Nepal officially released a new map, showing the disputed territories of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani within its borders. The bill seeks to amend Annex 3 of the country’s constitution to reflect the new map, even as India continues to remain firm on its stance that it will not accept such “artificial enlargement” of Nepal’s territory. The bill has been passed by the lower house of the Nepalese parliament, and is now being discussed in the upper house.
Map a ‘tool for political gains’
Calling Nepal’s decision to roll out the new map as “unilateral action”, India said the new map is not based on historical fact and evidence, and is also in violation of the border protocols and treaty that Nepal has with China.
“Nepal has encroached Indian territory in Susta, Bihar by settling its own population there and through various construction activities,” the official quoted above said, adding that the new map was drawn “hastily” and is being used as “tool for political gains”.
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Meanwhile, the Oli government has denied that New Delhi offered to speak “through official channels”, and said it was Kathmandu that made attempts to speak to the Indian government, which were refused.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Monday that bilateral ties between India and Nepal are “unbreakable”, and that the relationship is “not an ordinary one”.
“We have a relation of ‘roti and beti (daughter)’ which cannot be broken by any power of the world,” Singh said in Uttarakhand, referring to the age-old people-to-people contact between both countries.
He also pointed out that the Nepalese-origin Gorkha Regiment is part of the Indian Army, and has shown immense strength and courage for the cause of India.
Singh also dwelled on the ‘temple connect’ between the countries. “We don’t have just geographical, historical or social relations with Nepal, but a spiritual one as well. Who can forget Baba Pashupatinath? How can he be separated from Baba Amarnath, Somnath and Kashi Vishwanath? This relation is not from this world, but another world,” he said.
Last week, Indian Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane had also sought to soothe the ties, stating that the India-Nepal bond was always “strong”, and would continue to remain so.
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