The Indo-Nepalese relationship was built on the foundation of a friendship and peace treaty signed in 1950. People can cross borders without a passport and visa. ‘Ironic’ is the term that we can use to describe the ties between the two neighbours. The more similar are their people, lifestyle, roots, and political approaches, the more they have drifted apart over the years.
Historically, culturally, geographically, religiously and financially, India and Nepal have been hanging together with a knot tied around known as Roti-Beti ka Rishta. Nepal holds a very strategic part in Indian neighbours fiesta. If Nepal supplies India with its perennial water system, India is responsible for 2/3rd of Nepal’s imports and trade.
Nepal is the hub of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and India is both domestic and an international ally of Nepal. Nepal has also been more than a buffer state for its internal unity against international threats. However, rebellious voices have now begun to rise.
Along with China causing troubles on the border, Nepal has also changed sides and is blaming India for everything that has happened due to the status quo. Now, this is a repercussion of what has been happening between the countries for decades now. Everything has not been well between India and Nepal, thanks to failed leadership and internal politics.
The anxious sparks ignited into a fire when India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh virtually inaugurated an 80 km long road in the Himalayas, connecting the domestic border with China, at the Lipeulekh pass on May 8, 2020. India built this through the Kalapani territory which has been designated as disputed by Nepal whereas India has had a claim on it for sixty years now.
China claims that it conducted a census there in the early 1950s and refers to the 1815 Sugauli Treaty as legitimising its claims. Although, in 2015, Nepal had supported Indian expansion via the border as it facilitated trade between the two and other countries simultaneously.
It is not the first time that India has been up to some work on the border in that area. The newly instigated tension dates back to last November when Article 370 was abrogated, and a new map was released by India, which included the disputed territories Nepal claims to be under its jurisdiction. Nepal raised a voice against it this time which was also reflected via certain social media trends like ‘BackoffIndia’.
Recently, Nepalese Prime Minster Mr. KP Sharma Oli said during a speech of his in Nepal’s lower house that the southern border of Nepal has been creating lots of problems for the country. Along with bringing COVID-19 cases, the area is also bringing in an international dispute.
On June 12, 2020, just a few days after the PM’s speech, Nepalese police opened fire on the Nepal-Bihar border, in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district killing one and injuring three Indians nationals. A dispute between two farmers from both sides had forced the policemen to open firing. The Nepalese police had also detained one Indian national.
Nepal also abided by it’s promise to revise the map and include disputed parts of Uttarakhand such as Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani. Furthermore, it also deployed troops on the border extending to about 1800 km that was closed down in the month of March as a precaution to stop coronavirus from entering the country’s premises, in a move to make safe and secure decisions internally.
The Nepalese geopolitical and international politics approach has been into transformation since it has started taking sides with China and barring it from becoming a hub of any Nepalese protest. It is on the behest of the disputed border that Nepal has been seeking opportunities to widen its horizons in order to build a connection with China and other Asian countries in a more elaborative manner.
This rebellion is also being understood as a move to deviate people’s attention from how the Sharma led government has flunked in governing the country. It poses as an ultra-nationalistic move to become self-dependent and strengthen ties with the communist neighbour.
Also, India’s disinterest in taking up various developmental projects meant for both countries like linking waterways and roadways and of course trade has resulted in drift in the relationship of once allied nations.
Since a mini-war raged between the two countries initiating in 2015, India has been cutting down its supplies to Nepal. China took advantage of the situation and started investing hugely in the country, also expanding trade routes from Tibet to Kathmandu, focusing on better trade relations. Nepal had also supported China and flouted India’s decisions during the border dispute talks of India and China recently.
Also, Nepalese nationals think that India interferes with the country’s political sovereignty which gave Prime Minister Oli a point to mobilise the mass into his favour.
Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that both the countries will talk and solve it over a good discussion as the routed relations of Roti and Beti still persist between the two nations.