Neighbours have been snubbing Nepal’s diplomatic notesNepal’s concerns over disputed Indian map, deaths of two Nepalis in Darchula and India-China agreement on trade route through Lipulekh have gone unanswered.
Nepal has sent three ‘diplomatic notes’ to India since Sher Bahadur Deuba became prime minister last July. The most recent diplomatic note to the southern neighbour was sent on Tuesday following scuffles on the Nepal-India border at Darchula over India’s unilateral construction of an embankment on the Mahakali river.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent the latest diplomatic note requesting a joint inspection of the disputed site on the border river.
Although Nepali and Indian officials claim that the relations between the two countries are on equal footing, the reality is different. “The relationship between Nepal and India is not result-oriented, and given that India has ignored Nepal’s repeated concerns expressed through diplomatic notes, the relations cannot be termed healthy,” Deep Kumar Upadhaya, a former Nepali ambassador to India told the Post.
Earlier in October-end, the Deuba government had sent a diplomatic note to the Indian government after a nine-year-old child, Pawan Mahara of Dumling in Vyas Rural Municipality-2 of Darchula, was fatally injured when he was hit by a flying stone splinter from a road-construction blast carried out across the Mahakali river on October 28.
Before this, on July 30 last year, Jaya Singh Dhami, 33, from Khangdang Mal of Vyas Rural Municipality-2 in Darchula, fell into the bordering Mahakali River while crossing the river with the help of an improvised cable mechanism after Indian security personnel disengaged the cable from the post it was tied to. Dhami remains missing ever since.
The Home Ministry had formed a team and communicated to the Indian side to compensate the Dhami family. After much criticism, the Sher Bahadur Deuba government sent a diplomatic note to India in August last year, requesting New Delhi to launch a detailed investigation into the involvement of Indian security personnel in the incident. But India has not shown any keenness to respond.
“I am not aware of any Indian response to the diplomatic note sent by Nepal earlier. Most likely, the Indian side has not responded to any of the diplomatic notes sent by the government,” a foreign ministry official told the Post requesting anonymity.
Normal conditions don't call for any nation to communicate with another country through a diplomatic note. When a nation expresses concerns through such notes, the recipient is expected to respond, experts say.
“By snubbing the notes from Nepal, India is attempting to show that Nepal’s concerns are unimportant,” Dinesh Bhattarai, who earlier served as foreign affairs advisor to two Nepali Congress prime ministers, told the Post. “It also shows India’s reluctance to deal with Nepal on an equal footing.”
Before Deuba’s term, the then KP Sharma Oli government had also sent to India two diplomatic notes in 2019 after the southern neighbor published a new political map by including the Nepali territory of Kalapani within India. India ignored both.
Though there is no response from the Indian side, we should not stop voicing our displeasure over such matters, says the immediate-past ambassador of Nepal to India, Nilamber Acharya. Acharya was ambassador to India when the Oli government sent diplomatic notes to India over the controversial map.
“If the issue is not resolved, there should be further action. There should be a follow-up. But we should also consider other channels to register our concerns,” Acharya told the Post.
Not only the southern neighbour, but Nepal’s northern neighbour China also did not respond to a diplomatic note sent by the government after India and China without consulting Nepal signed an agreement on a trade route through Lipulekh, a tri-junction boundary point between Nepal, India and China in 2015. The agreement was announced through a joint statement issued by India and China.
Consequently, the Sushil Koirala-led government then dispatched diplomatic notes to China and India expressing Nepal's concerns. However, neither of the neighbours responded, according to Bhattarai, who advised the then prime minister Sushil Koirala on foreign policy matters.
Meanwhile, former foreign minister Bhekh Bahadur Thapa views the diplomatic notes sent by Nepal seem to be merely for public consumption because officials have not been doing follow-ups.
“Diplomatic note alone cannot do anything. It is a way of projecting the concerns of the country about specific issues with another country,” Thapa told the Post while stressing the need for pursuing effective diplomacy.