Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent announcement to widen the road over the Lipulekh territory, which Nepal claims as its own, a new diplomatic battle has erupted between Nepal and India.
On December 30, Modi said that his administration is expanding the road built in the Nepali territory of Lipulekh during a rally organized by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haldwani, Uttarakhand.
Nepal has previously expressed its displeasure with the Indian government’s ongoing road building in the Lipulekh and Kalapani districts. When Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh virtually opened the newly-constructed road at Lipulekh on May 8, 2020, Nepalese objected.
Following widespread demonstrations and criticism in Nepal over India’s road construction, the Nepalese government has produced new maps covering places such as Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, and Kalapani.
Following that, Nepal attempted to undertake bilateral discussions to amicably settle the problem of India’s ‘encroached’ land, but New Delhi showed little interest. There has been no official discussion on the subject until today.
Following India’s unveiling of its new political map in November 2019, Nepal and India have been engaged in a boundary dispute. Nepal has expressed its displeasure with India’s decision to include the disputed territories in its jurisdiction. In May 2029, Nepal’s then-K.P. Sharma Oli administration revealed a new political map that included Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura.
Despite the fact that both parties have pledged to resolve the border issue through diplomatic and political means, no meaningful bilateral talks have yet taken place.
In his address, Modi mentioned that the route to Lipulekh has been enlarged, and that work is continuing to improve the road to Kailash Mansarovar, a sacred tourism destination.
In this regard, the major opposition Nepal Communist Party-UML has expressed displeasure with Modi’s decision on Lipulekh.
Rajan Bhattarai, the party’s foreign affairs wing chairman, issued a statement on Tuesday calling for a halt to operations that undermine Nepal’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and self-respect.
“CPN-UML unwaveringly believes that road and other structure development should be halted, that the matter should be quickly resolved via conversation, and that no structure should be created at the state level until a resolution is found through dialogue,” the statement stated.
Several doubts have been raised, according to Bhattarai, because the administration remains mute on such crucial matters as nationalism.
The party has also encouraged the government to begin talks with its Indian counterpart as soon as possible, to demand that India halt all forms of ‘bullying,’ and to take effective steps to establish Nepal’s practical control over the ‘encroached’ lands.
The ruling CPN (Unified Socialist Party) also released a statement on Monday, objecting to India’s road construction in the ‘encroached’ Nepali region of Lipulekh and condemning Narendra Modi’s recent comments.
Despite appeals from many sectors, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has yet to react on the matter.