Nepal parliament approves map that includes Indian territory

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Kathmandu: Nepal’s Upper House on Thursday unanimously passed the Constitution Amendment Bill to update the country’s map incorporating three Indian territories. All 57 members voted in support of the bill. The Nepal-India relations turned sour after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on May 8 inaugurated the 80-km long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand.

Last week, Nepal’s lower house cleared the bill that was supported by all the 258 lawmakers present and voting. Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura are the territories Nepal now claims as its own.

Reacting to the passage of the map in Nepal’s lower house, New Delhi had said: “This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues.”

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli government, which had gone ahead to issue the new map last month, has repeatedly claimed that Nepal would “get back the land occupied by India” through dialogue.

The move is expected to aggravate a diplomatic row between Nepal and India, which erupted after Kathmandu protested against the opening of an 80-km road to Lipulekh on the Chinese border by New Delhi last month. Nepal claims Lipulekh but the Indian side has said the road is completely within its territory.

Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali told Parliament last week that the new road to Lipulekh had “undermined” the country’s sovereignty.Nepal’s border begins at Limpiyadhura, the origin of the river Kali, and the border with India is determined by the Treaty of Sugauli of 1816, he said. India, he added, had acknowledged in 1997 that the borders at Kalapani and Susta were “unresolved”.

Nepal’s House of Representatives on June 13 passed a bill to in order to amend the country’s political map and include strategic areas bordering India to its territory, such as Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura, in the country’s Constitution.

Nepal Opposition parties, including the Nepali Congress (NC), Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) had voted in favour of the bill to amend Schedule 3 of the Constitution to update the national emblem by incorporating the new controversial map.

Reacting strongly to the neighbouring country’s move, spokesperson for Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said, “We have noted that the House of Representatives of Nepal has passed a constitution amendment bill for changing the map of Nepal to include parts of Indian territory. We have already made our position clear on this matter.”

“This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues,” the spokesperson had said.

Rajnath Singh on June 15 had called for cordial relations with Nepal, saying, “Indo-Nepal ties are not ordinary, we are bound together by ‘roti-beti’ and no power in the world can break it.”

While addressing a virtual rally, the defence minister tried to allay Nepal’s fears over the road connection Lipulekh pass with Dharchula, saying it was meant to facilitate the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

“Earlier pilgrims used to go to Mansarovar, through the route of Nathula Pass. It was a longer route but now BRO has built a link road till Lipulekh. This has brought a new route to Mansarovar…It is an 80 km long road, built in the Indian region,” Singh said.

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