Kathmandu: A fresh diplomatic spat has brewed between Nepal and India after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent announcement to expand the road across the Lipulekh area which Nepal claims as its own.
Addressing an election rally organized by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at Haldwani in Uttarakhand on December 30, Modi had announced that his government is further widening the road built in the Nepali territory of Lipulekh.
Nepal has already protested the Indian government’s ongoing construction of roads in Lipulekh and Kalapani areas. Nepal had protested on May 8, 2020, when Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh had virtually inaugurated the newly-constructed road in Lipulekh.
Following strong protests and criticisms within Nepal over the expansion of roads by India, the government of Nepal had issued new maps covering the areas including Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, and Kalapani.
Immediately after that, Nepal tried to hold bilateral talks to amicably resolve the issue of the territory ‘encroached’ by India, but New Delhi did not show any interest in it. Until now, there has been no formal discussion on the topic.
Nepal and India have been indulging in boundary row after India unveiled its new political map in November 2019. Nepal protested India’s decision to incorporate the disputed areas in its territory. In response, the then K P Sharma Oli government in Nepal unveiled a new political map in May 2029 incorporating Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura.
Though both sides have vowed to settle the boundary dispute through diplomatic and political talks and channels, no concrete bilateral negotiations have taken place yet.
Modi, in his speech, had said that the road has been widened to Lipulekh and work is underway to widen the road towards the religious tourist site, Kailash Mansarovar.
In this connection, the main opposition Nepal Communist Party-UML has taken exception to the announcement made by Modi on Lipulekh.
Issuing a statement, the chief of the party’s foreign affairs wing, Rajan Bhattarai, called for ending such activities that violate the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and self-respect of Nepal.