Uproar in Nepal over Modi’s Kalapani visitIndian PM breached diplomatic norm visiting Nepali territory without notice: Lawmakers
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit on Thursday to a Nepali border village claimed and occupied for decades by India as its own territory has ignited criticism in Nepal.
Lawmakers who spoke in the House of Representatives the same day opposed Modi’s visit to the Kalapani area, shown in Nepal’s official map, and demanded an answer from the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led coalition government.
Social media users lambasted and poked fun at the Indian prime minister for visiting Nepali territory without prior notification to Nepal.
Modi visited the Adikailasha and Parvati Kunda shrines and interacted with the residents from Pithoragarh and Gunji. Nepal has made historical claims to that part of the land. Nepal's new map unveiled in May 2020 incorporates the areas including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani, Gunji, Nabi, Kuti, and other parts of the Lipulek region. However, India has persistently asserted its claim to this area and stationed its military there.
The chief district officer of Darchula, Kiran Joshi, told the Post that she tried to speak with her Indian counterpart, but they did not respond. “But I have communicated to the Home Ministry about the visit,” she said.
Lawmakers said Modi had violated diplomatic decorum by visiting the Nepali territory without informing Nepal.
They also demanded answers from the government as to why the Indian prime minister was allowed to visit the territory without prior approval of Nepal.
“The Indian prime minister violated diplomatic decorum and protocol by visiting the Nepali territory without our knowledge,” said Thakur Gaire, a CPN-UML lawmaker. “The Indian prime minister also dishonoured Nepal's territorial integrity, independence, and friendly relations between the two countries.”
UML’s KP Sharma Oli was the prime minister when Nepal issued the new map.
Gaire termed Modi’s visit “unacceptable”. “We are asking India to remove its military base from Kalapani, but the Indian prime minister visited the same disputed area and dishonoured the Nepali territory,” Gaire said.
In its political map released in November 2019, India incorporated the disputed territory as its own. Then, the government of Nepal published a new map showing the territory as its own. But India keeps denying it and calls Nepal’s move a “cartographic assertion”.
Nepal needs to ramp up its diplomatic efforts and engagements with India and should try to take the southern neighbour into confidence,” said Madhav Sapkota, a lawmaker from the CPN (Maoist Center).
“The visit of the Indian prime minister to the disputed territory shows that we need to increase our diplomatic efforts. We hope the government is listening to us,” said Sapkota.
Chief District Officer Joshi said that they did not have prior information about the visit and the Indian side also did not communicate.
During a press conference on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesperson Sewa Lamsal said the ministry is gathering information on the visit.
A senior foreign ministry official said that they have sought related information from the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi and [Nepal’s] Home Ministry, and form a position on the matter based on the inputs received from various agencies.
“We can then conclude why did the Indian prime minister not inform us while coming inside Nepali territory and we will make a position accordingly,” said the official.
Modi was accompanied by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, among others, while he laid the foundations for projects in Pithoragarh and met residents of Gunji village.
Nepali social media users criticised and made jokes about the visit.
“Modi visited Nepal today for the sixth time as prime minister! Did Singha Durbar catch wind of it or not?” wrote user @KTMite on X, formerly Twitter, in Nepali.
User @pandeyjispeaks wrote: “You can bully us by your armies and weapons but remember karma will get you..eventually there’s gona be a bigger bully!!! And it’s truly happening in aksai chin ..pok and others!!! Lord pashupatinath will help us one day!! [sic]”
Nepali Congress lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada, however, said that as Modi had come on an unofficial visit to the Kalapani area, the government of Nepal should not be too bothered.
“Modi did not come on an official or a state visit. Otherwise, we would have had to welcome him. Since it was a private visit, it is up to them whether or not to inform us,” said Khatiwada.
“It is unfortunate that the government cannot do anything when a head of government of a neighbouring country is visiting Nepali territory without prior information,” said Dipak Bahadur Singh of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party. “The Nepal government should condemn the visit.”
Former deputy prime minister and home minister Rabi Lamichhane demanded an answer from the government of Nepal. “The government should inform the House about the visit of the Indian prime minister to the Gunji area, which belongs to Nepal,” he said.
“The prime minister of a neighbouring country is visiting but there is no welcome ceremony, nor is there any information. That territory where the Indian prime minister visited is incorporated in our new map, which is hanging on the wall of this House,” Lamichhane added.