ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Neighbours in Strife

India and Nepal should resolve their border dispute through diplomacy and negotiations.

Indo–Nepal relations are in the limelight, but for the wrong reasons. Both countries have entered into a dispute that has flared up once again over a territory that has mostly remained out of public view. On 8 May 2020, the defence minister of India inaugurated an 80-kilometre (km) road going up to the Lipulekh pass—the trijunction of India, China, and Nepal. India, for various reasons—“strategic, religious and trade”—considers this high altitude road important. From the Indian point of view, it facilitates connectivity until the China border and cuts down considerably the travel time of the Kailas–Manasarovar Yatra. However, the question remains as to what was the urgency to digitally inaugurate a still incomplete road at a time when India is struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, and moreover, when it had already entered into a conflict with another neighbouring country. The news of the Chinese incursion and scuffles breaking out between the troops of the two countries in Ladakh was filtering in from 5 May.

Both India and Nepal lay claim over the Kalapani region. Under the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, the areas falling east of Kali river were to belong to the Kingdom of Nepal and west of the river formed the Kumaon region of British India. The origin of the river, however, remained a matter of mutual discord. Nepal maintains that the headwaters lie in Limpiyadhura mountains, hence claiming the entire stretch downwards as theirs. India claims that the river originates from down south in Kalapani, hence the name Kali, and thus, it is from here that the treaty applies. It has considered this area as part of Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand. Nepal had so far claimed 35 square (sq) km of Kalapani area. However, it is now officially staking a claim on a 370 sq km area comprising Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani.

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Updated On : 15th Jun, 2020

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