India did not expect a strong reaction from Nepal against
its road announcement. The Indian diplomatic establishment has
pushed the country’s northern neighbour into China’s lap.
India and Nepal are close neighbours. In fact, they are deemed as the world’s closest neighbours by some notable Indian and Nepalese scholars. Deep cultural engagement between the people of India and Nepal dates back to independence. Citizen of both states enjoy freedom to live and work on either side of the border. Shared history and cultural heritage have further strengthened this bond over decades.
Keeping in mind this background, the recent approval of a new political map of Nepal by its parliament would seem a little out of context, especially when the map includes territories under Indian control.
The new map immediately stirred a row between the two countries, with both claiming the territories of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as their own.
In reality, the map covers only a tiny region in the Himalayan highlands but its recent re-drawing has the potential to ignite another conflict between Nepal’s two giant neighbours – India and China.
The problem started in November last year when India revealed its revised political map after revoking Article 370 which separated Indian-occupied Kashmir from Ladakh. The same map also included territories claimed by Nepal.
Kathmandu vehemently protested this unilateral Indian move and urged India not to try and change the status quo without bilateral consultations. Paying little heed to Nepalese protests, on May 8, India announced commencement of work on a road reaching up to the Lipulekh Pass.