While India had refrained from publicly speaking on the issue until now, the Nepal Cabinet’s endorsement of the map, followed by PM K P Oli’s Parliament address in which he said his government was going to “retrieve” the land and the release of the map brought the strife over the boundary issue to a head.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said what Nepal had done was contrary to the bilateral understanding to resolve the outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue.
“Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India,” he said.
The government said Nepal was well aware of India’s consistent position on this matter and urged the Nepal government to refrain from such “unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“We hope that the Nepalese leadership will create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues,” added the official.
The map released by Nepal Wednesday showed Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh Pass in India’s Pithoragarh district as belonging to Nepal.
India seems to have been particularly upset over the fact that Nepal didn’t wait for the foreign secretary-level dialogue even though the Indian government had assured Kathmandu that talks would take place once the threat from Covid-19 was dealt with. Nepal though says that it had been seeking dialogue on the issue since November last year.
Oli had said on Tuesday that Nepal was forced to act after India inaugurated a road to the strategic Lipulekh Pass near the tri-junction with China. India and Nepal have differences over where the Kali river, which is supposed to act as Nepal’s western border, originates. However, India says Nepal shouldn’t have any problem with the road meant to be used by pilgrims and traders as it lies to the west of the river. Nepal claims that Indian army forcibly took control of the area in 1962 by deploying its army there.
Oli, in fact, seems to have further riled India by claiming in the same Parliament address, of which more details emerged Wednesday, that the coronavirus coming from India was “more lethal” than the one from China or Italy. He also said that Indians entering Nepal illegally were responsible for the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Nepal is among the countries India has donated antimalarial drug HCQ to for dealing with the novel coronavirus. It had a few days ago also sent 30000 test kits to Nepal for which foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali had publicly thanked India.
“The coronavirus coming from India are more lethal than those from China and Italy,” he was quoted as saying.
“Those who are coming from India through illegal channels are spreading the virus in the country and some local representatives and party leaders are responsible for bringing in people from India without proper testing,” Oli was further quoted as saying.