The Kalapani dispute
The MEA on 2 January 2020 clarified that India's political map released after reorganisation of J&K has in no manner revised the boundary with Nepal. The timing is significant, as it comes amid an unease with Nepal over territorial claims of the Kalapani trijuntion of India-Nepal-China. Nepal media has carried reports of a likely bilateral dialogue with India on Jan 15 over the issue.
What is the Kalapani dispute?
- Kalapani is a 372-sq km area at the China-Nepal-India tri-junction. India claims Kalapani as a part of Uttarakhand while Nepal depicts the area in its map.
- The border dispute flared up again recently after India released its new political map, following the reorganisation of J&K, showing the area as its own.
- According to the Sugauli treaty signed between Nepal and British India in 1816, the Mahakali river that runs through the Kalapani area is the boundary between the two countries.
- However, British surveyors subsequently showed the origin of the river, which has many tributaries, at different places. While Nepal claims that the river west of the disputed territory is the main river and so Kalapani falls in its territory, India claims a different origin and includes the area in its territory.
- Strategically, Lipulekh Pass in Kalapani serves as an important vantage point for India to keep an eye on Chinese movements. Since 1962, Kalapani has been manned by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
- Nepal’s Supreme Court has this week sought the country’s original map exchanged with India during the signing of the Sugauli Treaty, the one exchanged while signing a boundary treaty with India in 1960, the map published by the East-India Company on February 1, 1827, and a separate map published by the British Government in 1847.
- Kalapani is such an emotive issue for Nepal and its citizens that India’s decision to expand trade with China through the Lipulekh Pass created a furore in Kathmandu with the Nepal Parliament seeking to know from the government if the India-China agreement undermined Nepal’s sovereignty.