Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane Friday has hinted Nepal has protested about the Indian road via Lipu Lekh on China’s behest.
General Naravane did not explicitly name China, but his response to a question at a think-tank in Delhi left little to the imagination, The Indian Express reported in the news titled 'Nepal may have raised border issue on someone else’s behest: Army Chief hints at China’s role.'
“There is reason to believe that they (Nepali side) might have raised the issue at the behest of someone else and that is very much a possibility,” he stated while responding to questions from the participants after delivering a talk “COVID and Indian Army: Responses and Beyond” at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) on Friday through a webinar.
“In fact, the Nepalese Ambassador has mentioned that the area east of the Kali river belongs to them. There is no dispute in that whatsoever. The road which we made is in fact to the west of the river. So, I don’t know what they are agitating about,” he added.
He, however, stressed there was no connection between “between Lipu Lekh and the recent clashes between the Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh and Sikkim when asked whether there are any.
The claims of General Naravane cannot be more off-mark as China and India have connived in blatant encroachment of the Nepali territory. Nepal had expressed its disagreement in 2015 through separate diplomatic notes addressed to the governments of both India and China when the two sides agreed to include Lipu Lekh Pass as a bilateral trade route without Nepal’s consent in the Joint Statement issued on 15 May 2015 during the official visit of the Prime Minister of India to China.
Inauguration of the Indian road via Lipu Lekh last Friday has been widely criticized by the ruling and opposition parties alike.
The Foreign Ministry has already expressed regret over the unilateral construction and urged India to refrain from carrying out any activity inside the territory of Nepal. It then summoned the Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra and handed a diplomatic note conveying Nepal's position on the issue.
Nepal has consistently maintained that as per the Sugauli Treaty (1816), all the territories east of Kali (Mahakali) River, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipu Lekh, belong to Nepal.