India asks Nepal to use alternative steps to diffuse border row

India finds it difficult to talk under the shadow of Parliament resolution

India asks Nepal to use alternative steps to diffuse border row

Sandeep Dikshit

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8

India has conveyed that it cannot be expected to discuss the border dispute with Nepal under the overhang of a resolution in the Parliament of Nepal that proposes to amend the political map to include Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpaidhura.

The Parliament of Nepal is slated to take up a Constitutional amendment resolution on Tuesday after the Nepali Congress came on board to give a two-thirds majority.

Nepal has cited the meeting of Indian and Chinese army commanders, and the virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, as a suggestion for a meeting to be held between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Nepal.

Sources said while the resolution should not be bandied as a threat, there are other mechanisms to discuss Nepal’s claim over territory that has an Indian military post along with 19 km of an Indian-built road to the China border.

They pointed out Nepal’s haste in taking the Constitutional amendment route but felt the situation was retrievable. The ties could have taken a turn for the worse had Nepal approached the International Court of Justice or the UN, which was the stage of a slanging match between India and Nepalese delegations over an “economic blockade” in 2015.

There were existing modalities such as the report of the Eminent Persons’ Group on resolving the outstanding issues, which was convened by the Foreign Secretaries of both countries and has been pending official airing for two years now.

Besides, there was also a pending proposal for a field survey to demarcate Kalapani, for which a joint boundary committee was to be set up.

“There are no dead-ends with Nepal. It is a question of how we handle it from here,” said a source.

The Kalapani dispute has been making an appearance for the past two decades but was fanned in November last year. India, while releasing a new political map to depict the carving of J&K into two UTs, also included the Lipu Lek-Kalapani-Limpiyadhura area which is claimed by Nepal.

The issue ebbed after the Ministry of External Affairs made conciliatory statements.

It came to the fore again in May when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh digitally inaugurated a link road to Mansarovar Yatra. Singh’s tweet prominently mentioned Lipulekh which he described as “China Border” whereas Nepal claims it is a tri-junction.

The MEA has been firm that the road section in “Uttarakhand lies completely within the territory of India” and follows “the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra”.

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