Border Dispute Between India and Nepal: Know what's the issue and history of Nepal's relationship with India

Nepal has released its new political map claiming Kalapani, Lipiyadhura, and Lipulekh as its own territories rather this area falls under the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand

           Nepal's new map claiming Kalapani, Lipiyadhura, and Lipulekh as its own territories.

The Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which turned two over last weekend. The two-year-old party came into being with China's ruling communist party after the merger of two dominant communist parties of Nepal - the Marxist-Leninist and the Maoist.

To understand better first know Nepal's new map claiming Kalapani, Lipiyadhura, and Lipulekh as its own territories.

In 1950, India and Nepal signed a Treaty of Friendship and Peace. The treaty extends mutual peace, friendship, and sovereignty to each other, while it accepts non-interference in each other's territory. As per the treaty, Nepal would consult India whenever they undertake any arms imports from any nation other than India. The national treatment clause also extends to industrial and economic development. 

Basically, under Indo-Nepal national treatment, their citizens are empowered to the same privileges for the property, trade, and residence, and movement in both countries. That means a Nepali citizen can buy property in India while an Indian citizen can do so in Nepal if he/she so chooses. Also, an Indian citizen can reside anywhere in Nepal, and a Nepali citizen to enjoys the right to residence in India under national treatment.

Another important point of the treaty is open borders. As per this point, Indian citizens can move to Nepal without the need for a visa and vice versa. As per Article X in the treaty, either party can ask for a change in the treaty whenever demanded.

Treaty of peace and friendship signed in 1950

Nepal's issue with FriendshipTreaty

This treaty favors Nepal more than India, but Nepal still has certain issues with it. Nepal initially plained that when the treaty was concluded in 1950, India concluded the treaty with a Rana Nepal alleges that India signed the treaty with the Rana who had become unpopular. Certain sections in Nepal also alleged that the way the treaty was signed signified that India considered Nepal a small state and not an equal state. It was further alleged that the conclusion of the treaty by the Indian ambassador and Nehru himself not coming to sign the treaty signified an unequal status of a country. 

As mentioned earlier, in 1994, the UML had successfully generated an anti-India plank in the election. Since then, raising anti-India slogans and alleging that the Indo-Nepal Treaty of 1950 favors India more than Nepal has become a norm for gaining political mileage. Many times, Nepali political parties have demanded a change in the treaty. Under Article X of the treaty, Nepal can ask India to bring change and India has to establish a mechanism for the same. 

Whenever Nepal has asked for a change in the treaty, India has accepted the Nepali request, but the absence of consensus in Nepal on issues that need revision prevents any meaningful engagement about the issue. This demand for revision of the treaty was recently also raised during Indian the PM's visit to Nepal in 2014.

Border Related Issues between India and Nepal

India and Nepal have an open border with each other-a practice that dates back to the British times. Even the British had continued to maintain an open border between India and Nepal. The British and Nepal, after the Anglo-Nepal wars in 1814, concluded the Treaty of Sagauli in 1816. The British had drafted the Treaty of Sagauli on 2 December 1815. The treaty was to be signed by Nepal by the deadline of 17 December 1815. Nepal refused to sign it by the date declared. The British subsequently threatened an invasion of Kathmandu and after a 92 days stalemate, a courtier, C.S. Upadhyay, signed the treaty. The Treaty of Sagauli was not signed by the King and thus led to troubles in later times but the Treaty established the Mahakali River as a dividing line in the Western sector.

India continued with the tradition of an open border and it was noted under the Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950. The open border has helped domestic Nepalese people to take advantage. The people of Nepal, through the open border, also entered into India for economic opportunities. The Nepalis who come to India for work are well accepted in India and are not treated as aliens. Nepali citizens have an important contribution to India's security setup as well.

The entire border is demarcated by border pillars but at various stretches, due to natural calamities and lack of maintenance, the border pillars have gone missing, necessitating a proper demarcation of the border to ensure that an absence of the same does not lead to an escalation of tensions. In 1981, India and Nepal established a Joint Technical level Boundary Committee to survey the boundary again. The Committee in 2007 submitted 182 strip maps that were to be ratified by both nations. 

The ratification of me 182 strip maps is still pending as of 2017. In July 2014, both countries established a Boundary Working Woup (BWG) to resolve the Kalapani and Susta issues. The main issue related to border management between India and Nepal is that the borders have been demarcated on the basis of a flowing river. The problem is that the rivers shift their courses over a period of time. This impacts the border that gets ected due to shifting rivers. No doubt, the boundary of the river is also based on a principled fixed border but if the river shifts, it results in the creation of adverse possession. The shifting of the river led to the destruction of boundary pillars. 

The BWG will use GPS observations and generate data that will be used by the foreign secretaries of both nations to solve pending border issues, The BWC also to look into the Kalapani issue. The origin of the Kalapani issue goes back to the Treaty of Sagauli per the treaty, Kali River is designated as the western part of the boundary. In between the two streams of the Kali River lies Kalapani. The issue arises as the segments to the West of Kalapani of Kali River are claimed by Nepal, while India claims segments to the East of Kalapani of Kali River area, thereby making a claim to the entire Kalapani. In the 1962 Indo-China war, Kalapani was occupied by Indian forces and India considers it strategically important.

The open border has fostered socioeconomic linkages between the two nations and India also provides national treatment to Nepali citizens. However, since the end of the Cold War, the border has created some concerns. Intelligence report today suggests that Pakistan has been taking advantage of the open border to infiltrate into India and that it uses the Nepal border route to pump fake currency into India with an intention to destabilize the Indian economy. The open border has given rise to criminality. Today, criminals of both nations use each other's territory for refuge making it tough for law enforcement agencies to track and catch criminals. There have been numerous cases of drug trafficking, gold smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal arms trade that have been reported.

Though closing the border is no solution, better management of the border areas is required. A Cross-Border Crime Control Action Plan can be prepared and jointly enforced. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) can be empowered with modern technology and also empowered under the Passport Act to arrest criminals. (In July 2017, the Government of India has given the approval to SSB to establish its own intelligence wing).

The basic reason for the Chinese presence in Nepal is to ensure that Nepalese territory is not used by Tibet tried to build an economy for the breeding of discontent. In the initial years, from the 1950s to the 1980s, the Chinese tried to build an eco presence in Nepal, which got enhanced tremendously post the 1990s. China has increased participation in Nepal on the economic front. In the last decade, Chinese engagement with Nepal has got strengthened the soft policy level. 

For that matter, China has opened up many Mandarin language training schools in the Terai region. Chinese are providing Mandarin language training to Madhesis to ensure that in the near future the Madhesis emerge as potential laborers to work in the ever-expanding Chinese economy. China has made inroads into Nepal in infrastructure, education, and health sectors. India feels that the Chinese inroads I Nepal are necessarily to counterbalance the Indian influence in Nepal. Certain sections in the Indian security establishment feel that Maoism in Nepal has been encouraged by China and they have potential links with the Indian Naxalite movement, though this is not an officially accepted view by the Indian government today,

Nepal's double benefits

Nepal has made a tilt towards China. China is helping Nepal to fill the infrastructure gap. Nepal wants to take advantage of the rail infrastructure built by China in Tibet. Nepal has asserted that its relationship with China is purely economic and will not be hurting the Indian strategic interests in any way. The rising Nepal and China cooperation also signal that the Himalayas are not a barrier anymore and for India, a strategy to check the Chinese engagements is required rather than reactions. The Chinese strategy is to directly engage with the Nepali politicians and this has led China to build more trust. The China-Nepal relations can be judged from the following facts:

1. Nepal-China Agreement on transit

3. Joint Military Exercise Pact

4. Rasuwagadhi-Syabrubesi Road link

5. part of Chinese Belt and Road Initiative

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