The cabinet meeting on 18 May had decided to issue the new map including the Nepali territories, which has been intruded by India since 1960s. The new map was made public officially on 20 May by Padma Kumari Aryal, Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation. ”Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh belong to Nepal,” the Prime Minister vowed, “We will get them back diplomatically”. India has stationed its troops in Kalapani areas since the early 1960s and Nepalis were blocked from going there after India positioned its army.
While focusing on major four areas – Covid-19, new map, governance and democracy, he expressed his clear stance to reclaim the northwestern territory of Nepal. Though the dispute on Kalapani area was there since 1960s, the recent controversy erupted after India on 8 May inaugurated a link road to Kailash Mansarovar via Lipulekh, a Nepali territory. India’s defense Minister Rajnath Singh had inaugurated the road through video conference from New Delhi. India had published a new political map addressing the changed status of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh six months ago that placed Kalapani within its territory. Nepali government and people have strongly protested India’s new map.
A man of conviction and staunch defender of territorial integrity of country, Prime Minister Oli said, ” I would never let the Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh issue vanish. The rulers of Nepal hesitated to speak up, but as the Prime Minister of the present government I want to inform all that I will never let the issue disappear.” the Prime Minister’s statement, full of confidence and high morale, will lead Nepal towards achieving the goal.
With the new map, Nepal will request India to sit in talk soon to resolve the issue diplomatically. Nepal had been asking India to hold secretary level talks immediately after India issued a new map but the later seems reluctant to hold a meeting. Referring to the national logo of India with lions looking at all four directions with an inscription in Sanskrit reading ‘Satya Meba Jayete’ (Truth always wins), the Prime Minister said he wanted to ask whether it was ‘truth wins’ or ‘lion wins’. We hope it must be ‘truth wins’. This is just a glimpse of how Nepal will present itself in the negotiation.
According to the Prime Minister, the truth is what Nepal has been telling with all historical documents and maps. According to the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 and other related documents comprised of treaties and maps, Limpiyadhura is the origin of the Kali River. Kalapani and Lipulekh lie in the east of Limpiydhura, therefore, these are absolutely Nepali territories. Due to his able and successful leadership even in the adverse situation of blockade imposed by India, Oli accumulated the people’s strength, a strength led towards the excellence in governance. He made history by inking transport transit agreement with China in nine-month long government. Now he is on a mission to maintain Nepal’s northwestern border upto Limpiyadhura.
Referring to the immediate neighbours- India and China- Prime Minister Oli said Nepal will not compromise on its territorial integrity and national independence. In fact Oli has set some precedence in foreign and neighbourhood policy conducts. He implemented a principle of ‘equal sovereignty’ in dealing with neighbor in his first tenure of premiership and continuing with the principle, seeking solution even in border row through this approach. He often says, ‘a country can be big or small in size or population and advanced or backward in development but nationalism cannot be smaller or greater. All countries have right to exercise their sovereignty. And, the country can determine its own policy.’
Following the decision on new map and Prime Minister Oli’s bold statement, Indian media have launched an attack over Nepal government’s claim on the Kalapani area. Indian government, however, has not spoken officially. In three statements, Indian government has the same claim that the road which was constructed was not Nepal’s land, but India’s territory. India has been striving to prove Lipu Khola as the origin of Kali River. But the evidences are against the India’s claim.
After the eruption of Kalapani issue, China maintained mum for a week. On 19 May, however, the spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, said the Kalapani issue was an issue between Nepal and India. ‘The issue of Kalapani is between Nepal and India. We hope the two countries will resolve their differences properly through friendly consultations and refrain from taking any unilateral action that may complicate the situation.’ he said responding to a question to make comment on India’s road construction in Kalapani in the daily press briefing in Beijing..
Though China conveys message to Nepal and India to settle the Kalapani issue bilaterally, the reality is different. In 15 May 2015, India and China jointly decided to extend trade through the Lipulekh pass without even informing Nepal.
The Prime Minister, cabinet and the whole countrymen deserve accolades for uncompromising stance on territorial integrity and sovereignty. In this regard, Prime Minister Oli proved himself as the best leader in modern history of Nepal after King Prithvi Narayan Shah. King PN Shah unified Nepal and was an architect of modern Nepal while Prime Minister Oli sketched the new map of Nepal on the historical evidences. Oli made a history and changed the map of Nepal.
The newly updated map will come into use in all administrative offices and textbooks. This map will also incorporate Nepal’s northern, eastern, southern and western borders, including international borders with India in the south and China in the north. The Department of Survey under the Ministry of Land Management had prepared the map after months of study and research.
(Khanal is consulting editor at Gorkhapatra Corporation. [email protected]) This article first appeared in The Rising Nepal.