Nepal, India in diplomatic row after border road launch

Nepal's foreign affairs minister summoned Indian enovy; expressed displeasure over a new link road

Anadolu Agency May 11, 2020
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Nepalese counterpart Khadga Prasad Oli in New Delhi. PHOTO: FILE

KATHMANDU: Nepal and India have been locked in a bitter diplomatic row after the latter inaugurated a new link road for Indian pilgrims that passes through a disputed mountain claimed by the two as their territory.

Nepal's Foreign Affairs Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Monday summoned Indian ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra to the ministry and handed a diplomatic note expressing displeasure over a new road in a remote area called Lipulekh that lies in the trijunction of India, China and Nepal.

On Monday, Nepalese police arrested 30 protesters who burned effigies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Police also arrested Saturday dozens of protesters outside the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

In a statement on Saturday, Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Indian move was against the understanding reached between the two countries. In response, India's Ministry of External Affairs said the area was completely within the territory of India.

Prime Minister Oli and his co-chair in the ruling party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, called the move "deplorable".

"All the historical facts and evidences […] clearly stipulate that the area east of Kali [the border river] including […] Lipulekh are territories of Nepal," the statement said.

Hashtag #BackOffIndia trended on Twitter in Nepal on Saturday. India is viewed as a domineering neighbor by a vast majority of people in Nepal.

India launched the link road in the mountain to shorten the route for Indian pilgrims heading to Kailash Mansarovar, a holy site for Hindus in the Tibetan region of China.

In November, protests erupted in Nepal after India released a political map claiming the disputed territory was part of the country. The area borders Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Relations between the two countries strained after Nepal blamed India for imposing a border blockade in 2015, which crippled the supplies to the landlocked nation.

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