Nepal has for now iced a new map that was cleared by its parliament and places within its own borders a stretch of land high in the mountains that India claims as its own. A discussion in its parliament today to clear a constitutional amendment that would formalize the new map has been deferred, reported news agency ANI.
The map was cleared last week, provoking a fierce reaction from India, which described the move as “unilateral” and not based on historical facts. “Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India,” Anurag Srivastava, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said last week.
Nepal claims the territory, which touches the border with China, under an 1816 treaty with the East India Company. That agreement, according to Kathmandu, sets the River Kali as its western boundary with India and says the land lying east of the river is its territory.
The new map that shows a sliver of land – including areas like Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani – jutting out from the northwestern tip of Nepal was made public a week ago.
Nepal’s aggressive new move was combined with its prime minister KP Sharma Oli blaming India for infecting his country with coronavirus.
The map and a constitutional amendment followed India opening an 80-km-long road linking Uttarakhand with Lipulekh on the border with Tibet. The road stretches across the disputed piece of land and makes easier and shorter the journey for Hindu pilgrims who travel to Kailash Mansarover in Tibet.
Nepali officials had said the new map will be printed in school and college text books and official documents and will be used for all administrative purposes.
Yesterday, Nepal’s Defence Minister Ishwor Pokhrel reacted angrily to the Indian army chief saying recently that Kathmandu’s reaction to India’s new road is “at the behest of someone else.” The allusion by army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane was obvious. “How professional is it for the head of the Army to make a political statement?” the Nepali minister asked.