INDIA-NEPAL CARTOGRAPHIC WAR
India surrounds Nepal from the east, west and south and shares 1808 kilometres long border. At the same time, both the countries have border dispute, since centuries.
The history of the demarcation of modern Indo-Nepal border began on March 4,1816 after the signing of the Sugauli Treaty between British India and the state of Nepal. The treaty declared the Mahakali River of Nepal as the borderline between both countries. The treaty was supposed to resolve the border issue. Unfortunately, after almost 200 years later, the dispute regarding the border and the surrounding no-man’s land area, flares up now and then in different areas of Indo-Nepal Border.
It is in this background that the government of Nepal recently published a new authoritative political map, showing the areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepal territory, thus creating a territorial dispute with India.
The prime reason for the persistent of the dispute is that the rivers, which counted on as a border, have diverged from their courses several times. Around 600 kilometres of the border is defined by rivers: the Mechi in the east, Mahakali in the west and Naryani in the south areas. The unavailability of old maps and documents to revise the demarcation has made the situation even harder to resolve.
Nepal claims that India has encroached an over 60,000 hectares of land in 23 of 75 bordering districts, with 71 total areas of the dispute, whereas India is focusing on accepting the Indian map of 1875. Nepal on the other hand is not accepting this map as they say that it has no certification from Nepal.
Another dimension of the tension was added when India inaugurated a road linking Dharchula in Uttarakhand state and Lipulekh as part of the Kailash Mansarvar Pilgrimage route.
Nepal in recent times is tilting more towards China and in all probability and analysis it is on the behest of China that Nepal published a new map which includes some of the Indian territories. The timing of publishing the map when China is under pressure from the world for spreading COVID-19 and hiding the news with the world, is indeed very suspicious.
Nepal and India both shares a harmonious relationship and a cultural similarity. Nepali youths are seen in Indian defence, who are protecting the Indian Territory.
Hence, there is a need for introspection as to what has gone wrong. India must solve the issue as an elder brother, in view of Geo-political situation as Nepal is a buffer state between India and China. China’s policy of expansion and its growing influence in Nepal is a cause of worry for India.