Ruling party leaders call for action on Indian encroachment of LipulekhPushpa Kamal Dahal, ruling party chair and former prime minister, has said that the government should decide on alternative measures if India doesn't respond to diplomacy.
Nepal Communist Party chair and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said that Nepal needs to arrive at a conclusion as to which path it should pursue to resolve the boundary dispute with India, including a road link to Lipulekh, if New Delhi ignores diplomatic channels.
While speaking at a meeting of the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee on Sunday, Dahal said that Nepal, however, should first pursue high-level political and diplomatic channels to resolve the issue.
“But if that does help resolve the issue, Nepal must come to a conclusion on what to do next,” Dahal told the meeting while answering lawmakers' queries.
The House committees had invited Dahal to discuss India’s recent opening of a road link to Lipulekh, which Nepal claims as part of its territory.
Lipulekh is a strip of land on the northwestern edge of Nepal, lodged between Nepal, India and Tibet. While some call it a tri-junction between these three countries, Nepal has been claiming the southern part of the pass and has refused to recognise it as a tri-junction.
India’s Ministry of Defence announced on Friday that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had inaugurated the link road from Dharchula to Lipulekh, identifying Lipulekh as the “China border”.
On Saturday, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press note, objecting to India’s "unilateral act" as against the understanding reached between the two countries at the highest political level that a solution to the boundary dispute would be sought via diplomatic negotiations.
India and China in May 2015 had agreed to open and expand a trade route via Lipulekh.
With the new development, there are now calls that Nepal also take the issue up with China, as Delhi must have been in consultation with Beijing to open the road that aims to link Kailash-Mansarovar in the Tibetan Autonomous Region with Dharchula in India.
At Sunday’s meeting, Dahal said that Nepal should also hold talks with China to resolve the row as it has become an issue involving three countries.
According to Dahal, all three countries should find a solution to the Lipulekh dispute. Dahal appreciated the Foreign Ministry statement on the issue but stressed action.
Dahal ruled out any move to internationalise the issue at this point of time.
Speaking at a meeting of the International Relations Committee, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said that India had encroached upon around 19 kilometres of Nepali territory while building the road link.
Later on Sunday, lawmakers raised the issue at Parliament as well.
Bhim Rawal, Gagan Thapa, Surendra Pandey, Janardan Sharma, Rajendra Lingden, Durga Karki and Prem Suwal—from both the ruling and opposition parties—questioned the government for its inaction, despite the fact that India had been constructing the road for a number of years.
Responding to lawmakers, Gyawali said that the government believes that the issue will be resolved through diplomatic channels, as the Indian side has already said they would sit for talks once the Covid-19 crisis is over.
Responding to the Foreign Ministry’s statement, a spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said the road was constructed on Indian territory. Issuing a press statement on Saturday, the spokesperson said that India, however, was committed to resolve the dispute through diplomatic dialogue.
“The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing,” said the Indian ministry. “India is committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue and in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations with Nepal.”
Gyawali said that the government was well aware of the road construction, ever since construction began in 2008, and has been seeking a date from India to hold talks.
Madhav Kumar Nepal, also a former prime minister and chief of the ruling party’s International Department, has also objected to the ‘inauguration’ of the road leading to Mansarovar via Nepali territory.
“It’s saddening and objectionable that India inaugurated the road to Mansarovar of China via Nepal’s territory at a time when world is fighting against Covid-19, ignoring the repeated call for foreign secretary-level dialogue after a new map was issued on November 4, 2019,” states a press statement issued by Nepal on Sunday.
This move has seriously violated bilateral understandings and agreements, and has attacked Nepal’s sovereignty and integrity, said Nepal, urging the government to initiate dialogue with India immediately via video conferencing.