BJP leader Vijay Jolly’s reading of Nepal’s position on Limpiyadhura, Lipu Lekh and Kalapani region is deeply flawed. His arguments are unfounded, unfriendly and driven by a bullying attitude.
Hawkish interview of Vijay Jolly, a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), regarding the Indian encroachment of Kalapani area of Nepal calls everybody to revisit historical facts. He did not mention historical facts supporting India's claim during his fiery interview with Nepali Radio Network on May 22 with Rishi Dhamala. Agreements between Nepal and the British India, including the Treaty of Sugauli and its supplement, letters, administrative practices and subsequently published maps of Nepal, evidently show Nepal's sovereignty over the area of Limpiyadhura, Lipu Lekh and Kalapani (LLK) in Darchula district of Nepal.
The only omission of Nepal was non-deployment of effective administrative and security apparatus in that area in an appropriate way. However, an outpost of the Nepal Police was at Lipu Lekh till the middle of state-Maoist conflict period in Nepal.
Fact of the matter
Prime Minister and Nepali Congress leader Matrika Prasad Koirala allowed the Indian Liaison and Military Group (ILMG) in Nepal's northern borders in 1952. In 1970, the government of India, under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had decided to unconditionally withdraw all ILMG from Nepal. Swaran Singh was the foreign minister of India at the time. Sardar Bhim Bahadur Pande, ambassador of Nepal to India under King Mahendra and Prime Minister Kirtinidhi Bista, had extensive discussions with Indian leaders in New Delhi. However, no written document is available so far to explain why all 17 ILMGs were withdrawn, but not from Kalapani.
Nepal has, according to bilateral agreements and international law and practices, every right to assert her sovereignty over the LLK area. It has manifested in the official publication of an updated map of Nepal on May 20. However, Nepal was not the first country to unilaterally publish the country map. India did it first unilaterally, ignoring the request of Nepal for an early foreign secretary-level bilateral meeting as previously agreed upon by both the countries. In addition, India “inaugurated” a road leading to Lipu Lekh without consulting Nepal, while the whole world has been under a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ignoring this fact, Vijay Jolly blamed Nepal for the publication of the map. During the interview, he argued that Nepal should remain silent about the road construction because the area "belongs'' to India, it is "important for the security" of India and to "watch over China". He even said that Nepal has raised this LLK issue because of "provocation and pressure of a third country" from beyond the Himalayas, terming it as "provocation from Chowmein people". The BJP leader also accused PM KP Sharma Oli of trying to "divert Nepali people's attention from the internal debate in the government and serious happenings inside the ruling party" and "playing politics".
He did not even hesitate to say that Nepal ought to feel "obliged" for recent Indian assistance of health materials, development activities, assistance during the earthquakes and investment of Indian companies in Nepal. He arrogantly expressed contempt on Nepali patriotism, labeling it as an "object kept into a rotten bag of politics''. Such utterance is not only unfriendly but also undiplomatic and objectionable. It should be rejected by the Nepali people and the government.
While repeatedly asked about the withdrawal of Indian presence from LLK area, Vijay Jolly put his ridiculous argument that the land area does not "belong to any one except the divinity", but India may "renounce" its ownership of "hundreds of Lipu Lekhs" in favor of friendship with Nepal. Speaking authoritatively, he talked about the possibility of a "dialogue" after the corona crisis, and basically threatened Nepal during the interview.
Nevertheless, the evidence and ground realities prove that Vijay Jolly's arguments are unfounded, unfriendly and driven by a bullying attitude. In the present civilized world, it is needless to say that the relations among nations are based on international law and practices, bilateral agreements and mutual understandings characterized by mutual equality, respect and benefit. This kind of relation is further guided by the UN Charter, principles of Panchsheel and norms of friendly behavior. Nepal is committed to all of these principles and practices, and has never acted against other friendly countries. Nepal has not only contributed to the security of India by sending thousands of Nepali youths to the Indian army, but also contributed to maintaining peace around the world by sending the UN peace missions. Nepali people expect similar conduct and practice from neighbors and other friendly countries.
Constitution of Nepal and the Nepali people are proud of their history of independence, bravery and determination, even during the difficult times. They also believe in peaceful resolution of all kinds of differences and disputes between nations, especially among neighbors. The Nepali people, together with the government of Nepal, are looking forward to early friendly talks between the two countries at the highest levels to end the Indian trespassing of Nepal's territory in the LLK region. This is the truth and no one should try to present it otherwise.
Rawal is a senior NCP leader and a former home minister