‘Artificial enlargement of territorial claims’: India on Nepal’s new map
The external affairs ministry’s sharply worded response came hours after Nepal’s land management minister Padma Kumari Aryal unveiled the map at a function in Kathmandu attended by political leaders and officials.Updated: May 20, 2020 21:13 IST
India on Wednesday said Nepal’s new political map, which depicts Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as part of Nepalese territory, amounts to “artificial enlargement of territorial claims” that won’t be accepted by New Delhi.
The external affairs ministry’s sharply worded response came hours after Nepal’s land management minister Padma Kumari Aryal unveiled the map at a function in Kathmandu attended by political leaders and officials. The three territories were shown as part of Byas rural municipality in Sudurpaschim province.
Aryal said she hoped India will take Nepal’s decision to publish the new map in a “positive way”.
But external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Nepal’s revised official map “includes parts of Indian territory”. He said in a statement: “This unilateral act is not based on historical facts and evidence.
“It is contrary to the bilateral understanding to resolve the outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue. Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India.”
Nepal is aware of India’s consistent position on this issue and the government should “refrain from such unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Srivastava said. India hopes the Nepalese leadership will “create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue” to resolve boundary issues, he added.
Kathmandu’s move came little more than six months after New Delhi published new maps of the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh that showed Kalapani as part of Uttarakhand state.
Nepal’s council of ministers had approved the new map during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Monday.
“The map will come into use immediately…The areas of Gunji, Navi and Kuti, near Kalapani, which had been left out in earlier maps, are also included in the new map,” Aryal was quoted as saying by The Kathmandu Post.
Unnamed Nepalese officials were quoted by the Post as saying that the country’s total area has increased from 147,181 sq km to 147,516 sq km after the addition of “disputed land that is currently occupied by India”.
The diplomatic row began on May 8 after defence minister Rajnath Singh opened an 80-km road that ends at Lipulekh Pass on the border with China. The road was built so that pilgrims going to Kailash-Mansarovar in the Tibet Autonomous Region can avoid dangerous high-altitude routes through Sikkim and Nepal.
Nepal’s foreign ministry summoned the Indian envoy last week to protest against the construction of the road. New Delhi had rejected Kathmandu’s protest, saying Lipulekh is “completely within the territory of India”.
While addressing Nepal’s Parliament on Tuesday, Oli said the decision to include the three territories in Nepal’s map was made after India inaugurated “a road link through Nepali territory”. He contended that people coming from India “through illegal channels” were spreading the Coronavirus in Nepal.
India and Nepal share a 1,800-km open border. Nepal claims all territories east of the Kali river, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh, under the Treaty of Sugauli that it signed with the erstwhile British administration in 1816.