Kathmandu: Criticising Indian Army Chief Manoj Mukund Naravane’s remarks on Kathmandu acting on “behest of someone” over the Lipulekh issue, Nepal Defence Minister Ishwor Pokhrel has said that the statement was an insult to the nation’s history and was made ignoring its social characteristics and freedom.
“Such a statement is an insulting statement made by ignoring Nepal’s history, our social characteristics and freedom. With this, the Indian CoAS has also hurt the sentiments of the Nepali Gurkha army personnel who lay down their lives to protect India. It must now become difficult for them to stand tall in front of the Gurkha forces,” Nepal’s Defence minister reacted to Indian Army chief’s statement during an interview with a local daily, The Rising Nepal, on May 22. On May 15, General Naravane had suggested that Nepal might be raising the issue of road construction via Lipulekh to Mansarovar at “behest of someone else” after Kathmandu protested against India’s newly-built road passing through Lipulekh area.
During a webinar organised by a think tank, General Naravane, without naming China, said on last Friday, “There is reason to believe that they might have raised this issue at the behest of someone else and that is very much possible.”
“The road constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is on the west side of Kali river. So, I do not know what exactly they are agitating about,” he added.
India had made it clear that there is no dispute over the new road built in Uttarakhand, connecting the Lipulekh pass with Kailash Mansarovar route in China. But, Nepal had protested against it and also deployed a security post near the area.
“How professional is it for the head of the Army to make a political statement? We don’t have anything like that here. Nepali Army does not go vocal on such matter. The army is not there to speak,” he said.
“They may have been some shortcomings in similar talks held in the past on many occasion and in international treaties and agreements. As a close and friendly state of Nepal, India should give a positive response. We will put forth everything in clear terms in a dialogue. Such a dialogue will be held not based on mind matters but with facts and evidences,” the Defence Minister added further.
Last week, Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had also responded to Naravane’s comments saying it is “inappropriate” to make the Army speak over border issues in between two neighbouring countries.
Earlier this month, the Indian envoy was also handed over a diplomatic note by Nepal after a dispute arose over the construction of the road leading to Mansarovar via Lipulek, a territory claimed by Nepal.
On May 8, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had inaugurated the link road to Kailash Mansarovar yatra via video conferencing. Nepal said it has “consistently maintained” that as per the Sugauli Treaty (1816), “all the territories east of Kali (Mahakali) river, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and LipuLekh, belong to Nepal.”
The Indian Defence Ministry had said the new road in Uttarakhand has connected Kailash Mansarovar route to Lipulekh pass, which will provide connectivity to border villages and for security forces.
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