New map row: India warns Nepal about vested interests

Raveesh Kumar

A day after Nepal objected to the new political map of India, New Delhi just stopped short of asking Kathmandu against allowing China or Pakistan to drive a wedge between the two neighbouring nations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government in New Delhi recently issued India's new political map – showing Ladakh as well as Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as the two separate Union Territories. Kathmandu objected to the map on Wednesday, alleging that it showed Kalapani – a disputed territory on India-Nepal border near Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand – as part of India. The Nepalese Government also said that it would not accept any “unilateral decision” by New Delhi on the disputed boundary between the two nations.

New Delhi, however, underlined on Thursday that the map “accurately” depicted the “sovereign” territory of India.

“The new map has in no manner revised our (India's) boundary with Nepal. The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing under the existing mechanism,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi, said.

Modi Government recently issued the new political map of India as its August 5 decision to reorganize the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two Union Territories (Ladakh and J&K) came into force on October 31 last.

The MEA spokesperson in New Delhi said that both India and Nepal “should guard against vested interests trying to create differences” between the two countries.

He did not elaborate whom he referred to as “vested interests”, but Pakistan's all-weather ally China has been competing with India for geopolitical influence in Nepal.

Pakistan has been running a diplomatic blitzkrieg against India, opposing Modi Government's decision to strip J&K of its special status and to reorganize the state into two Union Territories. China too has been echoing Pakistan.

Beijing perceived New Delhi's August 5 decision on J&K as a “unilateral” move to change the status quo in the disputed territory and to strengthen its claim – not only on areas of Kashmir under the occupation of Pakistan, but also on 5180 sq. kms of areas ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963 as well as on Aksai Chin - a disputed territory between India and China.

New Delhi and Kathmandu have been trying to narrow differences in perception on the boundary alignment in Kalapani near Pithoragarh in the western sector of India-Nepal border.

Both sides accept the 1815 Sugauli Treaty, which identifies the Kali River as the India-Nepal border in the region, but they are yet to resolve differences in perception over the source of the river. “We reiterate our commitment to find a solution through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations,” Kumar, the MEA spokesperson, said on Thursday.

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