INDO-NEPAL BORDER DISPUTE

Harshul Khadiya

Aug, 07, 2020

Since India attained its Independence in 1950, India and Nepal have been sharing a friendly relationship. After independence a treaty was signed in the name of‘the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship’ between both the countries during the same year while keeping in mind the best interest for both the nations.

Since India attained its Independence in 1950, India and Nepal have been sharing a friendly relationship. After independence a treaty was signed in the name of‘the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship’ between both the countries during the same year while keeping in mind the best interest for both the nations.
The effect of this was that, both the countries agree to a peaceful trade, and are allowed to cross each other’s territories without restrictions. As per the treaty The Indian government and the Rana rulers of Nepal clearly demarcated that ‘neither government shall tolerate any threat to the security of the other by a foreign aggressor’
The major clause of the treaty which laid the stone of a strong friendly relations between the two nations was that, the Nepalese and Indians can move freely across the border without passports or visas, and may live and/or work in either country. However, after various political issues and border disputes, this relationship has come to an end.

How It All Started
Countries which share long borders despite good diplomatic relations have not been able to control border issues all around the world. Same is the case with India and Nepal as they share a 1,800 km (1,118 mile) border. Despite the good diplomatic relationship between the two countries, the border dispute is speculated to have started a long time ago. With an initiative to demarcate the India – Nepal border, both countries formed set up survey teams in order to explore and resolve the issue. They conducted a survey of the border pillars prepared by the Joint Technical Level Nepal-India Boundary Committee (JTLNIBC), after years of surveying, deliberations, and extensions, the Committee had finally submitted the demarcating report in 2007 for ratification by both the countries. However it was not successful because Nepal argued that it cannot ratify the maps given by the survey team without the resolution of Kalapani and Susta in the Nepal map while on the other hand India waited for the ratification from Nepal’s side and hence despite the survey teams, the issue was not settled and since then both the countries stand each other at this border dispute
In November 2019 a major border issue between India and Nepal occurred when India first released a new mapclaiming parts of J&K and displaying Kalapani as a part of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. This got much worse when Indian govt. on November 8th when 9th edition was issued in which delineation remained same but the name of Kali river was deletedas a result not only political leaders took this seriously but Nepal’s citizens also protested in Kathmandu against the new map of India. This again took heat when India’s defense minister Rajnath Singh On May 8, 2020,virtually – over a video conference – inaugurated an 80 kilometre-long road in the Himalayaslies at a strategic three-way junction with Tibet and China., at the Lipulekh pass to which the Nepal government immediately disagreed with India’s plan to lay the road,claiming that the new 80-kilometre road passes through their territory.

India v. Nepal’s Stand
Responding to this issue, the upper house of Nepal's Parliament approved a new map for the country, including land controlled by India including Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani. All the members of the upper house voted in the favor of this constitutional amendment bill and was passed in lower house over the weekend as well. Law Minister of Nepal said that they have enough evidence to claim the territories. Nepalese authorities claims that the Nepal-India border was delineated in 1816, by the Sugauli treaty, which was signed between the British East India Company and the King of Nepal following the Anglo-Nepalese war. As per Nepal government, the Sugauli treaty clearly states that Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura belongs to Nepal.

While on the other India is of the view that the origin of Kali River is in springs well below the Lipu-lekh pass, and the Sugauli Treaty which Nepal claims has demarcated actually does not demarcate the area north of these streams. Also the administrative and revenue records of the nineteenth century also show that Kalapani was on the Indian side, and is embarked as part of Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand
The only way forward to this that India must not delay resolving the matter through diplomatic talks especially at a time when it already has a faceoff with China in Ladakh and Sikkim because the sooner India resolves the dispute, the lesser the chances of China to get involved in this. At one point, the historical, technical and cartographic claims are bound to come from both sides and will probably lead to a dead-end, which will not resolve any issue about river alignments and other contentious criteria. Assuming that there is political buy-in from the leadership on both sides, the only solution which can be achieved through diplomatic talks is to arrive at a decision wherein both wherein both will some form of co-management or shared sovereignty for the disputed territory.