Nepal lodges protest over India's Lipulekh decision

Nepal lodges protest over India's Lipulekh decision

Amid tons of political tensions within Nepal over India's decision to create a road through the Lipulekh pass which remains an unresolved territory between the 2 countries, Nepal's secretary of state Pradeep Gyawali on Monday called within the Indian envoy to Nepal to lodge a robust protest.

In a tweet, the Foreign Ministry of Nepal said, "Foreign Minister Hon. @PradeepgyawaliK conveyed Government of Nepal's position on boundary issues to Ambassador of India to Nepal H.E. Mr. Vinay Mohan Kwatra at a gathering held at MoFA today and handed over a diplomatic note during this regard."

On Sunday, Kathmandu had expressed "regret" over India's "unilateral" decision of constructing a road during a border area that has got to be resolved between India and Nepal.

"This unilateral act runs against the understanding reached between the 2 countries including at the extent of prime ministers which an answer to boundary issues would be sought through negotiation," Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday had inaugurated the 80-km road to ease the journey of Kailash Mansarovar yatris which might be curtailed to at least one week compared to 2-3 weeks it took earlier. The road runs through Lipulekh pass and Kalapani which is under dispute between India and Nepal.

India continues to take care of that the world where the road is arising may be a a part of its territory.

"Amb. of India to Nepal Sh. Kwatra met Hon'ble Min. for Foreign Affairs Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali today at Singha Durbar. Amb. Kwatra stated India's position on boundary issues with Nepal. He also handed over a replica of MEA spokesperson's response to the Hon'ble Min," tweeted the Indian embassy in Nepal.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, during a statement on Saturday, said, "The recently inaugurated road section in Pithoragarh district within the State of Uttarakhand lies completely within the territory of India. The road follows the pre-existing route employed by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra."

The politics over this within Nepal is deep-seated within the fight for power between former Prime Minister Prachanda and Prime Minister KP Oli.

With Prachanda raising the difficulty in Parliament, KP Oli's government had to point out assertiveness. Therefore, the meeting with the Indian envoy was elevated to the extent of foreign ministry instead of the foreign secretary summoning him.

Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli and Prachanda, as co-chairmen of Nepal Communist Party (NCP), had called building Lipulekh road during coronavirus pandemic "deplorable".

A party statement said, “It is deplorable that this development has taken place at a time when the whole humanity is faced with an unprecedented health crisis within the wake of coronavirus and every one our efforts are targeting fighting against the pandemic.”

India has been criticised in many quarters of Nepal. The Indian ambassador himself received tons of flak for his "body language" during his meeting with minister Gyawali.

Many, including think-tankers like Indra Adhikari, questioned the ambassador for sitting cross-legged ahead of the Nepalese secretary of state .

This is not a recent issue Nepal had expressed its disagreement with both India and China when the 2 sides agreed to incorporate Lipulekh pass as a bilateral trade route without Nepal's consent within the joint statement issued on May 15, 2015.

Nepal's foreign affairs ministry had then released a press statement and stated: "The Nepal government firmly believes that the Kalapani may be a a part of Nepal." Adding that India's "unilateral" and illegal move to intrude on Nepal's Kalapani goes against the '1816 Suguali treaty' between Nepal and therefore the then Malay Archipelago Company.

In Nepal, this has been a problem ever since India updated its map on All Souls' Day last year including Kalapani, a neighborhood that Nepal claims as its territory.