Nepal’s Parliament passes constitutional amendment bill changing the nation’s map

New Delhi: Vested interests, aligned with China, are trying to create a rift between India and Nepal on the issue of the new Nepalese map which includes Indian territories of Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh.

Nepal’s Parliament met on Saturday to pass the constitutional amendment bill changing the map of the Himalayan nation. The map, which includes three Indian territories of Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh, has been rejected by India as “unjustified cartographic assertion”.

Commenting on the passing of Constitutional Amendment Bill revising the Coat of Arms of Nepal by the House of Representatives of Nepal, MEA spokesperson 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,” he said.

Despite such provocations, India has maintained a conciliatory stand on the issue. Earlier, Srivastava had said that India deeply values its cultural and friendly relations with Nepal, referring to people-to-people contacts. “Our multi-faceted bilateral partnership has expanded and diversified in recent years, with increased focus and enhanced government of India’s assistance on humanitarian, development and connectivity projects in Nepal,” Srivastava had said.

But sources said there are “vested interests”, aligned with China, which are trying to create difference between the two counties. “Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is perceived to be leaning towards China. In the past too, he had disagreements with India. In 2016, he had accused India of toppling his government. However, after he returned to power in 2018, there were renewed efforts from both sides to improve the relationship,” a source said.

Oli had said that if India showed more willingness for dialogue, a solution could be found. India had also stressed on a diplomatic dialogue. However, Foreign Secretary-level talks have still not been held to resolve the issue.

In an incident on the Indo-Nepal border in Sitamarhi (Bihar), the Nepal APF opened fire after an altercation over what was described as a “local” and “completely avoidable issue” by SSB’s 51 battalion commandant. There were 15 rounds of firing in which one person died. Sources said villagers alleged that the Nepal police asked them not to wander around the border as they are spreading coronavirus in Nepal.

Talking about the issue, Srivastava said India has been reaching out to friendly neighbouring countries, including Nepal, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to chart out a common strategy to combat Covid-19 in the region. He also said that India has extended all possible technical, medical and humanitarian assistance to Nepal.

“We have supplied about 25 tonne of medical aid to Nepal, including paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) medicines, test kits and other medical supplies,” he said.

Nepal released the revised political and administrative map of the country, laying claim over strategically key areas, days after India inaugurated a strategically key road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand.

The ties between the two countries came under severe strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 80-km-long road on 8 May.

Nepal, said Srivastava, is well aware of India’s consistent position on this matter and “we urge the Government of Nepal to refrain from such unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.