A month since Kalapani, no progress on holding talks with IndiaDelhi has shown little interest in holding discussions with Nepal, saying it will handle matters through diplomatic channels.
A foreign secretary-level meeting between Nepal and India to discuss the Kalapani issue is still not certain, a month since Kathmandu first sought a date.
Responding to the Post’s query on the status of Nepal’s request, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs, said on Thursday that he “cannot react at this forum”.
Nepal has objected to India’s new political map that places Kalapani within Indian borders. The map was released last month after Delhi formally split up the disputed Jammu and Kashmir state into two federal territories, in line with an August move by the Narendra Modi government to rescind Kashmir’s autonomy.
“Our position on the matter is very clear and consistent,” said Kumar. “It has been articulated in previous briefings.”
Kumar was referring to his November 7 briefing where he said, “The Indian political map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India.
“The new map has in no manner revised our boundary with Nepal. The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing under the existing mechanism,” he had said.
Nepal, while sending a diplomatic note to India last month, had proposed two different dates and offered to sit for talks in Kathmandu or New Delhi, wherever convenient for both sides.
“We are still waiting for a response but informal talks are being held with the Indian side at different levels and channels,” said Foreign Secretay Shanker Das Bairagi.
Kumar's response on Thursday comes amid suspicions in Kathmandu that Delhi is not willing to initiate talks at the foreign secretary level, a mechanism that was entrusted with the task of resolving outstanding border disputes, including Kalapani.
The fifth meeting at the foreign minister level, held in Kathmandu in August, had directed the foreign secretary-level mechanism to expedite the process to resolve outstanding border issues. But there has been no substantial progress.
After protests and continuous media reports in Nepal placed pressure on the KP Sharma Oli administration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a diplomatic note to Delhi registering its protest against India's inclusion of Kalapani within its borders.
Nepal’s Ambassador to India Nilamber Acharya also held talks with Indian Foreign Secretary Vijaya Gokhale on November 8 to discuss the matter.
"We have not received any affirmative answer from the Indian side for the meeting at the foreign secretary level," an official at the Embassy of Nepal in Delhi, who did not wish to be named, told the Post.
Meanwhile, Kathmandu has been attempting to activate all channels to initiate dialogue with India on the matter.
Oli was even working on sending Madhav Kumar Nepal, a senior leader in his Nepal Communist Party (NCP), to New Delhi as his special envoy to hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While leaders of the ruling party have said that the plan was just in the preliminary phase and that no concrete decision was taken, a section of Indian media reported that India refused to meet Madhav Nepal.
Minister for Information and Communication Technology Gokul Baskota said that there was no such attempt to send a special envoy to India.
“We can send a special envoy later, but we should not follow through on things that people write on social media,” Baskota said in response to a media query on Thursday at a regular press briefing. “We have issues with India only for Limpiyadhura. There is no issue about Kalapani, Susta and Lipu Lekh because they belong to Nepal.”
In New Delhi, Kumar, however, asserted on Thursday that all discussions on the border dispute would take place through diplomatic channels, which shows that Delhi is disinterested in dialogue with Oli’s special envoy or through any other channel.