Deuba government condemned for staying mum over Modi’s remarks on Lipulekh road

NL Today

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Kathmandu: The government as well as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has been heavily criticized for staying silent over Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that India is expanding the Lipulekh road to Kailash Mansarovar.

While addressing an election rally in Haldwani of Uttarakhand on December 30, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India had extended a road to Lipulekh and further expansion work is underway.

Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura fall under Nepali territory but India has been using some of these territories as its own, even by stationing its military troops in Kalapani.

Soon after Modi made this remark, Nepal’s social media sphere was filled with angry notes against the Indian PM and equally angry remarks against Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and his government for not protesting Modi’s remarks.

Independent media as well foreign policy experts have urged the government to write an official protest note to India over this matter.

On January 7, BCC Hindi reported that the Nepal government has remained silent over the declaration of Modi to build roads at Lipulekh. In Kathmandu, diplomats, as well as intellectuals, have decried PM Modi’s fresh remarks and the silence of the government of Nepal.

Rajan Bhattarai, the chief of Department of Foreign Affairs of CPN-UML, has protested PM Modi’s remarks and asked the government of Nepal to raise the matter with India urgently. “Indian PM’s assertion to construct unilaterally a road to Lipulake [sic] is the blatant breach of Nepal India Joint Commission meeting’s decision held in Jan 2021. Govt. of Nepal should raise this issue with India seriously,” he wrote on Twitter.

On December 30, Indian PM Modi said India has extended a road to Lipulekh and further expansion work is going on. Social media sphere was filled with angry notes against Modi and Nepali PM Deuba.

Similarly, diplomat and former foreign secretary, Madhu Raman Acharya has urged the government to ask India to stop the road construction in Lipulekh pass. “Government of Nepal should ask India to stop unilateral road construction in the Lipulekh Sector, in which both governments have agreed to talk bilaterally to resolve the outstanding boundary issues,” he wrote on Twitter. Dialogue must be held at the technical, diplomatic and political levels, he added.

Nepal has protested on several occasions in the past over India’s claim on territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura. 

When in November 2019, India published a new map showing Kalapani area under its territory, Nepal had sent as many as three diplomatic notes to India in protest. Then again, when, in May 2020, Indian Defense Minister inaugurated the Lipulekh road, Nepal immediately sent another diplomatic note to India in protest.

Reportedly when the Indian side showed no sign of addressing Nepal’s concerns diplomatically, Nepal finally came up with a new administrative map to include Kalapani, Limipiyadhura and Lipulekh in it in June 2020.

Kathmandu press as well as the intellectuals had wholeheartedly supported the government’s move while at the same time criticizing the Indian government’s move of issuing a new map by accommodating Nepali territories in it and later by building the road in Lipulekh.

 K P Sharma Oli was the prime minister at the time.  The new administrative map had received all-party support and every political party voted in favor of passing it from parliament.

In the wake of Modi’s Lipulekh remarks, the government, as well as the political parties, have been criticized for not taking up the matter seriously.  

There have been no official follow up and dialogues with India to bring the Kalapani area under the practical sovereignty of Nepal.