WITH protests mounting, Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli said on Sunday that the Kalapani area at the tri-junction of Nepal, India and Tibet belonged to Nepal, and “India should immediately withdraw its army from there”.
It was Oli’s first public response to a controversy triggered by official India maps released recently that included Kalapani, an area located on the western edge of Nepal. While there was no official response from Delhi, sources reiterated that the maps depicted India’s “sovereign territory accurately” and there had been no revision in the boundary with Nepal.
Addressing a meeting organised by the Nepal Yuva Sangam, the youth wing of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, Oli said, “We will not allow even an inch of our territory to be occupied by any country, India must vacate it.” However, he overruled suggestions that Nepal come out with an amended map including the contested areas. Dialogue will follow after India “withdraws its army from our land”, Oli said.
Nepal has seen protests by both ruling and opposition parties over the India maps. Participants at an all-party meeting called by Oli three days ago, including former prime ministers and ex-foreign ministers, asked him to take up the issue with India immediately.
The new maps were released by India to factor in the newly-created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) and Ladakh. These maps include Pakistan Occupied Kashmir as part of J&K, and Gilgit-Baltistan, also controlled by Pakistan, in Ladakh.
In a statement on November 6, the Nepal Foreign Ministry said, “The government is clear that the Kalapani area lies within Nepalese territory.”
In a reaction a day later, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said, “Our map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India. The new map has in no manner revised our boundary with Nepal... The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing under the existing mechanism. We reiterate our commitment to find a solution through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations.”
The statement added that India and Nepal should guard against “vested interests trying to create differences between the two”.
with inputs from ENS, Delhi