Parliamentary panel wants to visit Kalapani

Published On: November 29, 2019 07:23 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 29: A parliamentary committee is mulling over visiting the Kalapani area of Darchula to take stock of the ground situation amid protests across the country against Indian encroachment of the area.

Members of the State Affairs Committee (SAC) said that they are mulling over visiting the area in far-western Nepal after the November 30-by election in the country. 

“We are planning to visit Kalapani to study the ground reality of the area,” said committee member Jhapat Rawal. “But the date has not been fixed yet due to lack of logistical arrangements and absence of the Speaker in the House of Representatives.” 

According to parliament regulations, the Speaker should approve the field visit by any parliamentary committee. But in the absence of the Speaker following the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara from the post on October 1 following allegations of attempted rape, the committee is unlikely to get an approval for the visit. Although the committee’s chairperson Shashi Shrestha consulted Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamhpe earlier this week about the field visit seeking her approval, the latter is unsure if she is authorized to approve the visit. 

Members of the committee have also entrusted Chairperson Shrestha to discuss with Nepal Army about hiring an army helicopter for the field visit of Kalapani. “We had entrusted the committee chairperson to arrange the resources and security for the visit. The next meeting of the committee after the by-poll is likely to discuss the issue in detail,” said another member of the committee, Rekha Sharma.

Following the issuance of a new political map by India showing the Kalapani area in its territory, protests have erupted in Nepal asking India to recall its army from the Nepali land. Government Spokesperson Gokul Baskota on Thursday said that a diplomatic note has been sent to India drawing its attention about the encroachment of Nepali territory. “A diplomatic note has been served to India and the government has formed a committee to study our borders with both Indian and China,” said Baskota. 

Earlier, the committee had directed the government to issue a new political map of the country incorporating up to Limpiadhura in the Nepali territory. The Indian Army has taken the area into its control for over 57 years now and even local residents are not allowed to enter the territory without permission. A lawmaker said that it is not clear whether the committee members will be able to visit the area that has been encroached upon.

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