KATHMANDU, May 22: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Jolly Friday said Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura are strategically important to India and therefore will not give up the lands.
Nepal had allowed India to occupy some posts in the northern belt as defensive measures after the 1962 India-China war. The Kalapani dispute emerged after India withdrew its soldiers from all other posts except the Kalapani region near Lipulekh pass, and has stayed put despite several requests from Nepal especially after 1990.
The reason behind is India’s reluctance to leave Kalapani unattended is that India regards the region as an area of high strategic value.
The Kalapani dispute heightened in November last year after India released its new political map placing the region inside its territory.
India and China in 2015 had agreed to develop the Lipulekh pass as a bilateral trade route without the consent of Nepal, to which Nepal has strongly disagreed.
The tension boiled over at Nepal’s north-western frontier after India on May 8 opened a 79-kilometer long link road connecting Mansarovar via Nepali territory Lipulekh.
In response, Nepal also released its new administrative map on May 18 incorporating Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura inside its border, which Nepal has consistently claimed as its own based on the Sugauli Treaty 1816 reached between Nepal and East India Company on March 4, 1816, that sets the Kali river as its western boundary with India.
“The territories of Kalapani, Lipulkeh and Limpiyadhura are important to India due to security reasons. Therefore, we cannot just leave these territories,” Jolly told Rishi Dhamala at a radio interview Nepali Bahas.
Hours after Nepal officially launched its new map, India said it would not accept the new Nepal map as it was an “unilateral act” and “artificial claim”.
But Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli said the territories are not disputed as they already belong to Nepal, and also vowed to bring back these “encroached territories” through diplomatic efforts.
Jolly was not happy with PM Oli’s use of words and also expressed suspicions Oli’s “attack” on India was perhaps encouraged by some other forces.
“Nepal has made accusations against India at the time of the pandemic. Nepal has modified the diplomatic issue into a political one,” he added.
“These three territories are important to India,” he added.
After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal criticized the Indian move to open the link road via Lipulekh as “unilateral act” and urged India to “refrain from carrying any activities inside Nepali territory”, Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane had said “Nepal might have raised the issues at the behest of someone else.”
Although China could have tactical support on Indian “encroachment of border” at the northern side, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said Kalapani issue is between Nepal and India.
Nepal has called India for diplomatic talks as immediately as possible but Jolly said the talks would be held after the COVID-19 crisis ends.