KATHMANDU, May 9: India on Friday inaugurated a strategic link road connecting Dharchula of the Indian State of Uttarakhand and the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China via the Lipulekh Pass, a Nepali territory which lies in the country's north western frontier with China.
On Twitter, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he inaugurated the link road to Mansarovar through video conferencing. Lipulekh is the same territory through which India and China agreed to develop a trade route back in 2015.
Nepal strongly opposed the controversial agreement reached between India and China, calling it a serious breach of Nepal's sovereignty. However, India and China did not heed Nepal's call.
Five years later, the Indian side has unilaterally built a road up to Lipulekh in order to facilitate its Hindu pilgrims to Mansarovar, a popular Hindu shrine that lies in TAR of China.
"Delighted to inaugurate the Link Road to Mansarovar Yatra today. The (Border Roads Organization) BRO achieved road connectivity from Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border) known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route. Also flagged off a convoy of vehicles from Pithoragarh to Gunji through video conferencing," Singh tweeted earlier on Friday.
Although the government is yet to make an official statement, experts and politicians in Nepal were quick to take to social media and other platforms to oppose the Indian move soon after this news came out. "The Government of Nepal should immediately ask the Government of India in writing to stop construction or any activity that changes the status quo unilaterally in the Lipulekh area, which lies in Nepal’s territory, until the border point between Nepal and India is fixed bilaterally," tweeted former Foreign Secretary Madhuraman Acharya.
Expressing serious concern over the Indian encroachment of the Nepali territory, former Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa urged the Nepal government to immediately take initiatives to hold talks with the Indian side.
"Limpiyadhura/Lipulekh is a sovereign Nepali territory. Instead of removing the Indian military forces from the territory, it has come to the light that a new road link has been constructed for transportation up to there. I condemn this type of act on the part of the Indian government. The conspicuous silence of the government on the matter is regrettable. I urge the government to take necessary initiative for the same without any further delay," Thapa tweeted.