The longstanding border dispute between Nepal and India has resurfaced after India unilaterally constructed and inaugurated a new link road to connect Mansarovar of Tibet, China, via Kalapani Lipulek area, which Nepal claims as its territory.

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday informed about the link road in a Tweet saying, “Delighted to inaugurate the Link Road to Mansarovar Yatra today. The BRO achieved road connectivity from Dharchula to Lipulekh (China Border) known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route…”

In November 2019, after India placed Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipulek within its territory on its new government map, there was an uproar in Nepal from political sphere as well as the civil society demanding India to “back off” from encroaching upon Nepali territories.

However, while many are quick to blame India for taking unilateral decisions regarding the borders it is also important to note Nepal’s utter diplomatic failure in reclaiming its territories.

Vowing to reclaim Nepali territories through diplomatic channels, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who in the immediate aftermath of the border blockaded imposed by India in 2015 became the prime minister with his ultra-nationalist and anti-India stance, as well as his ministers managed to quell the issue for the time being.

But no talks have been held with the Indian government regarding the matter in the last six months.

Nepal government even formed two committees, headed by the joint secretaries of the India and China desks at the Foreign Ministry, in November last year to conduct field visits and prepare a status report on the border.

While the committee surveying the border with India has completed its visit, the committee that was supposed to study the border with China has yet to start its work.

Similarly, in November, a joint team of security personnel from the Armed Police Force of Nepal and the Indian Sashastra Seema Bal commenced a campaign for clearance with regard to the ‘no-man’s land’ along the Sunsari and Morang borders on the Indian and Nepali sides.

Following this, those who were found to have been encroaching the area—between border pillar number 185/PP74 (main) to border pillar number 184 (main)—were evicted. Of these border pillars, 23 were found to be missing in Sunsari district.

The main aim was to make the space well-defined so that there are no future troubles for the people who live in those areas and have the liberty to cross over the open system at any time.

However, one of the most important reasons behind the continuation of unresolved border issues is said to be the unavailability of old maps and documents for demarcation.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali yesterday said that Nepal government would make an official remark on the issue only after receiving details from the Indian side, adding that the government has always been alert about Lipulek and Kalapani issues.

In 2015, China and India had reached an agreement to build bilateral trade corridors through Lipulek via Uttarakhand. Even then, Nepali officials failed to take any initiative to oppose the decision.

Inaugurating the new link road amid a global pandemic and a nation-wide lockdown may come as an odd decision on India’s part, but the southern neighbour is well-known for making controversial arrangements at strategic timings.