Nepal move on map is unilateral, makes talks difficult now, say sources

India had provided overflight to flights to Nepal from several other countries, including China as well, the sources pointed out.

Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s move to bring a constitutional amendment that alters Nepal’s map to include territory in India, has “prejudged” any future discussions, said New Delhi, virtually ruling out talks with Kathmandu for the moment.

With the vote on changing the map depicted in the Nepali national symbol to include Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura being passed unanimously in the lower house of the Nepal parliament on Saturday, and another one expected to go through the upper house this week, the Modi government appeared to take a tougher stand with Kathmandu than it has in the past few weeks.

However, the comments by sources, who refused to be identified, were at variance with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s comments, at a party address on Monday, that the issues would be resolved through dialogue.

“We have always conveyed our willingness to talk,” sources said refuting Mr. Oli’s allegation that the Modi government had not responded to calls for Foreign Secretary-level talks on the Kalapani dispute and claiming that it had even offered talks last month.

“We had offered talks and a video-conference before the tabling of the [constitution amendment] bill (on June 1) also. However, the unilateral act of PM Oli has created a difficult situation and prejudged the outcome of any future talks. It is now for Nepal to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue,” the sources added, claiming that the Nepal PM had hidden India’s offer from his parliament and party colleagues.

The sources, however, declined to give precise dates of the offer made by New Delhi. An official in the Nepali government “outrightly rejected” the Indian claim that there had been any offer.

Visibly upset by Mr. Oli’s suggestion during the debate in parliament that “85% of Nepal’s COVID-19 cases had come from India”, the sources said the accusation was “false and distorted”.

Of 8 million Nepalese people who live and work in India, only a small number had returned over the India-Nepal border given the lockdown in both countries, they said, and they entered Nepal with the permission of their government. Hence, it was Nepal’s responsibility to ensure any returning citizen was quarantined and treated for the virus.

India had provided overflight to flights to Nepal from several other countries, including China as well, the sources pointed out, and it was unfair to single out just one country for the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the sources questioned Mr. Oli’s motives for bringing up the dispute over Kalapani, saying it proved “the intention is to politicise the boundary dispute”. They also claimed that Nepal has itself encroached on Indian territory in Narsahi and Susta by settling its own population in disputed areas, and asked why all the claims over issues settled during the 1815 Treaty of Sugauli (Article V) were being raked up after “200 years”.

With inputs from The Hindu