Border Encroachment— Understanding Lipulekh- kalapani territorial disputes

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Nepal's new political map issued on wednesday, 20th May. ( Source: Google Images)

What is Border Encroachment?

Border Encroachment is the act of building or extending structures in other’s property. It can be simply be understood as violating rights over someone’s land, place or property.

How did the recent controversy on border encroachment occur between Nepal and India?

  • Nepal unilaterally unveiled a new political map including Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura claiming Nepal’s territory on Wednesday, 20th May. The new map was approved by the cabinet on Monday.
Nepal issues new political map extending 335 sq km ( Source: Google Images)

The border issue is not a brand new controversy between two neighboring country.

How did this begin?

The Sugauli treaty, 1816 A.D

The Sugauli treaty is the border treaty signed between the government of East- India company and Nepal on March 4, 1816 A.D. The treaty of Sugauli was concluded under intimidation of East India Company towards Gorkha warriors by invading in Nepal’s territory. Nepal was forced to cede it’s one third of it’s territory to the East India Company.

The treaty significantly stated that Kali river will be the undisputed boundary line between Nepal and India. The land lying eastern side of Kali river belongs to Nepal and land lying west of the river belongs to India.

The border line differentiating the land of Nepal and India ( Source: Google Images)

In 1820s, the British India issued the map showing the origin of Kali river to be Limpiyadhura. The flow of the Kali river contains three villages in a line – Gunji, Navi and Kuti, which is an undisputed part of Nepal.

A British map from 1827 which clearly marks the “Kalee” river (in the red circle) as going northwest and upstream towards Limpiyadhura rather than north/northeast to Lipu Lek from the fork. ( Source: Scroll.in)

The East India Company realized the importance of Lipulek to get associated with Tibet and found it to be the only route to Kailash Mansarovar. The Britishers tend to be covetous and issued new map. After successful issuance of map identifying Limpiyadhura being the origin of Kali river, the British suddenly published a new map after 1860, that changes the origin of Kali river not being Limpiyadhura but  rivulet  (Kali river). Here, the river flowing from Limpiyadhura is named as ” Kuti Yangdi” where as a tiny rivulet is named as “Kali”.

Map issued by British on 1865 AD ( Source: scroll.in)

The China-Indian War of 1962 A.D

In 1962 China- India war, India persuaded Nepal to set up an Indian army base camp in Kalapani. It was a temporary concession provided to India, with the knowledge of Nepal Government. Now, Kalapani carried a great significance to the Indian Army. It was a geographic point, that shares boundary with two neighboring countries. Since, this Sino-Indian war Indian army was active in Kalapani.

India and China agreement in 2015

In 2015, Prime minister of India had attended India-China summit in Xian. India and China signed a bilateral agreement on using Lipulekh route for trade purpose between two countries. Since, Lipulekh being a part of Nepal, Nepal was neither consulted nor discussed about the agreement. Nepal Government wrote an official statement “The Nepal government is clear about Kalapani being part of Nepal’s territory.” Also, it wrote a protest note to both the countries but it was not given attention.

The Map Controversy 2019

In 2019, India issued it’s new political map including both Kalapani and Lipulekh as it’s territory.

Kalapani and Lipulekh included in India new political map (Source- Google Images)

The Most recent Conflict

According to the bilateral agreement made by India and China on 2015, India inaugurated the construction of road track towards famous pilgrimage Kailash Mansarovar. Amidst the pandemic COVID-19, Rajnath Singh Defence Minister digitally connected the road track from his work place.

The next day, Nepal’s official statement was published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing it’s objection to construct the road track using Nepal’s territory.

Nepal’s official statement to India on constructing road in Nepal’s territory without it’s consent (Source: Google Images)

Nepal has been reiterating that according to Sugauli treaty 1816 A.D, the territory lying east of Kali river belongs to Nepal which include Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh. Also, recently Nepal addressed the Government of India diplomatically by issuing it’s new political map on 20th May, 2020.

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