KATHMANDU, May 17: Political analysts in Nepal favoured a diplomatic solution to the Lipulekh and Kalapani border dispute with India even as they sharply reacted to Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane's recent remarks on the issue.
The Lipulekh pass is a far western point near Kalapani, a disputed border area between Nepal and India. Both India and Nepal claim Kalapani as an integral part of their territory - India as part of Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district and Nepal as part of Dharchula district.
Gen Naravane on Friday said there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to India's newly-inaugurated road linking Lipulekh Pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand at the behest of "someone else", in an apparent reference to a possible role by China on the matter.
"It is easy to deflect attention and shift the blame to another country, whereas the truth is that the road crosses the Mahakali River and enters Nepal's territory," Nepal's former foreign secretary Madhuraman Acharya said.
Senior journalist Kanakmani Dikshit advised the Nepal government to use track I or II diplomacy to resolve the border issue with India.
"As Nepal-India relations spiral, there's a need for furious back-channel diplomacy, does not matter whether it is Track One, Two or Ten," he tweeted.
"Amidst the certitude in New Delhi and chaos in Kathmandu, however, I wonder if anyone has time/wants to think of this."
"Nepalese people are suspecting China's complicit role in allowing India to open up the Lupulekh Pass bypassing Nepal," he claimed.
Political analyst Geja Sharma Wagley termed Gen Naravane's remarks as deplorable.
"The deplorable and undiplomatic remarks of Gen Naravane, who is the honorary General of the Nepal Army, reflect the very character & mindset of the Indian Government, & India's haugnty approach about ongoing border dispute!"
Addressing Parliament on Friday, Nepal's President Bidhya Bhandari reiterated that "Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani fall within Nepal's territory.
"Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh belong to us and appropriate diplomatic measures will be adopted to resolve existing issues, she said, adding that a new political map will be issued incorporating all these territories.
The issue became viral in Nepalese social media, where most of the people drew the attention of the government to take urgent measures to protect the country's border and resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Nepal on Monday summoned the Indian Ambassador and handed over a diplomatic note to him to protest against the construction of the key road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand.
The 80-Km new road inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on last Friday is expected to help pilgrims visiting Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet in China as it is around 90 kms from the Lipulekh pass.
"The recently inaugurated road section in Pithoragarh district in the state of Uttarakhand lies completely within the territory of India. The road follows the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra," spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said in New Delhi last week. - PTI