Six months after Survey of India unveiled its new political map placing Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani within its borders, the new map of Nepal showing Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani as Nepali territory was approved by the cabinet on 18th May 2020, Monday. Ministry of Land Management on 20th May 2020, Wednesday unveiled its new political map by including the region within its territory.
The Nepal government’s move to publish a new political map was prompted by Defense Minister’s May 8, 2020, inauguration of a road link to Kailash Mansarovar via Lipulekh. But India refused to accept Nepal’s new map as everybody expected. However, why did this MAP WAR start and who started it?
After THE TREATY OF SUGAULI with the East India Company, The Greater Nepal, extending from Tista in the east to Kangda in the west and Satlaj in the south was squeezed to Mechi in the east and Mahakali in the west. While East India Company was struggling to handle “Sipahi Bidroha” in India, Junga Bahadur Rana helped the British government to fight them.
In 1960, The British government returned Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur to Nepal as a gift to honour Nepal’s help to the East India Company. Article 8 of the INDO-NEPAL TREATY OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP clearly states that all treaty executed before will be cancelled, according to which India should have returned all the land belonging to The Greater Nepal. But still, Nepal is the same squeezed state as after THE TREATY OF SUGAULI.
During the Sino-Indian war in 1962, India took over Kalapani and started to camp their armies in that land. India had been claiming that the river flowing from Lipulekh is Kalapani not the river flowing from Limpiyadhura. But the historical document of India ALMORA: A GAZETTEER, VOLUME XXXV clearly states that Kuthi-Yankti of Limpiyadhura is the source of Kali River which is also proved by hydrology in scientific ways. These entire events took place during the regime of late King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev who didn’t protest a word about it with the Indian government.
The present map in practice which was issued in 2032 B.S during the regime of late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah does not have 335 square kilometres of Limpiyadhura region. Why was the land not included in the map? Who is responsible? There is no sure answer but conspiracies. The Kali River forms the boundary between India and Nepal in this region. However, India still states that the headwaters of the river are not included in the boundary.
After India closed the Lipulekh Pass in the repercussion of the 1962 Sino-Indian War, much of the trade used to pass through the Tinkar Pass. The Nepalese protests regarding the Kalapani territory started in 1997 after India and China agreed to reopen the Lipulekh pass.
After the abolishment of the monarchy, the political parties heavily discussed the territory encroached by India but no conclusion came out of it as opposition parties used that element to constantly pull each other’s leg. In 2015 after India-China agreed to open a trading post in Lipulekh this matter heated again. After Indian government on 8th May 2020 inaugurated the road link to Kailash Mansarovar via Lipulekh, political parties and Nepalese citizens started protesting compelling the communist government to take a stand which they did by publishing a new political map of Nepal and claimed they will be solving this issue diplomatically. But analyzing statements of Prime Minister KP Oli about the border dispute makes this issue difficult to solve diplomatically.
The new map of Nepal was prepared by the Department of Survey under the Ministry of Land Management including the territories of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani. The survey department claimed that they prepared the map with accurate scale, projection and coordinate system. In the department’s word, “This map has included all the Nepali territory as mentioned in the Sugauli Treaty of 1816”. The department also provided factual evidence including a map drawn during the TREATY OF SUGAULI, a map from London, receipts of payment of land revenue and the order issued by the then Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher to the ministry. According to the department they have successfully accomplished the important task of collecting proofs.
These are some strong historical evidences in favor of Nepal:
INDO-NEPAL TREATY OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP 1950, Article 8, states that all previous treaty has done with British Government before this treaty is cancelled: “So far as matters dealt with herein are concerned, this Treaty cancels all previous Treaties, agreements, and engagements entered into on behalf of India between the British Government and the Government of Nepal”.
THE TREATY OF SUGAULI 1816, Article 5, clearly states that Nepal would not have any concern on the land west of the River Kali: “The Rajah (King) of Nipal (Nepal) renounces for himself, his heirs, and successors, all claim to or connection with the countries lying to the west of the river Kali and engages never to have any concern with those countries or the inhabitants thereof”.
ALMORA: A GAZETTEER, VOLUME XXXV 1911, Page 4 clearly states the main source of River Kali: “The Kali on the east has its true source in the Kuthi-Yankti which after the in fall of the Kalapani River takes the name of Kali. The Kuthi River has a south-easterly course to the junction”.
Indian government unilaterally bringing out a new political map in 2019 has led to this MAP WAR. The above historical evidences are enough to prove that the land of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani belongs to Nepal as the source of river is clarified so is Nepal-India border. The Indian government needs to sit for diplomatic talk and solve the border issue once and forever which seems unlikely to go well analyzing the response of Chief of Indian Army and the Spokesperson of Foreign Ministry of India to the diplomatic letter sent by Nepalese government.
As the Indian government has invested a lot for the road link and has clearly denied Nepal’s request time to time it clear that they have no intention of solving this issue with Nepalese Government. Few Nepalese and Indian citizens both being jingoistic on social media platform has seriously harmed the friendly relationship between Nepal and India. The citizens of both countries should stop raging and help the government to handle this matter peacefully.
The only way this border tension between Nepal and India can be solved if both Indian and Nepalese government sits for diplomatic and political talk and also which will maintain the relationship between two South Asian neighbours. If the Indian government refuses to respond, then Nepal Government must dare to take this issue to the International Court.