The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has slammed the government for hurriedly claiming that China has not encroached Nepali territory in Humla without waiting for report of the team that went for field inspection.
A team led by Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla Chiranjivi Giri and including Nepal Army (NA) and Armed Police Force (APF) personnel has gone to Lapcha where the Chinese government has constructed buildings in land that locals claim belongs to Nepal. The team found the missing border pillar number 11, that will help demarcate the actual border, Wednesday evening.
But Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali claimed earlier on Wednesday that there is no border dispute with China without waiting for report by the team. "The attention of Nepali Congress has been drawn to announcement by the Foreign Ministry that 'border has not been encroached' on the issue of Nepal-China border in Humla before the field report about whether the border has been encroached or not arrived," the party said issuing a statement on Thursday.
The statement issued by NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma slammed the government for jumping the gun to claim China has not encroached Nepali territory pointing how the CDO-led team later found the missing border pillar which can accurately ascertain whether border has been encroached or not.
"We deem it is wrong on the part of Foreign Ministry to claim 'border has not been encroached' without any grounds even before the report of field study arrived," NC has concluded.
Sharma added that NC is also studying about the border on its own. "Central member and parliamentary party leader for Karnali Jeevan Bahadur Shahi is doing objective study of the actual facts staying in Humla," he revealed. "We understand that it will be responsible and mature to make our opinion public on the serious issue of border on the grounds of solid study and position by the local administration, political parties and media."
He said the party will urge the government to resolve the issue through diplomatic dialogue if China is found to have encroached the border. "If China is deemed to have encroached border after the team for field inspection returns to Humla headquarters Thursday evening, we alert the government to present strong opposition to the Chinese government and reach conclusion through the process of diplomatic dialogue."
The government had stated that there is no border dispute with China. Government Spokesperson and Foreign Minister on Wednesday claimed that the place where China has built the buildings is one kilometer into the Chinese side even as locals insist that the territory belongs to Nepal and Nepal had even constructed a road through that area to the Tibetan town of Taklakot where the Chinese government allows Nepalis of the region once in a year for trade.
"Such news reports were published even four years back. The government had investigated forming a inter-ministries committee then. Investigation by the team showed that the place where China constructed the building is a kilometer inside China," Gyawali had said during the press conference to make Cabinet decisions public on Wednesday. "A team including CDO has gone even now. We will brief you if they uncover any fact."
Gyawali insisted that there is no border dispute with China, and assured there is cordial environment for dialogue to resolve any problem if it arises.
The CDO-led team had reached Lapcha on Sunday where the Chinese side claimed that the building is on Chinese territory, and asked the Nepali team to return to the Nepali side and sit on a hill on the Nepali side if it wants dialogue. The team refused to sit for dialogue and returned back as agreeing to the Chinese terms would have meant conceding that the place is in China.
The team then found the missing border pillar on Wednesday. "They have found the pillar number 11 at Takulle Wednesday evening. It is in perfect condition," Chairman of Namkha rural municipality of Humla Bishnu Bahadur Tamang (Lama) told Setopati.
The place where the pillar has been found is two-day trek from Lapcha where the Chinese government has constructed buildings. "There is not a straight way from Lapcha to the place where the pillar has been found due to the difficult terrain. It takes around two days while taking a roundabout way," Tamang, who had won the local election on the ticket of the then CPN (Maoist Center), added. "It will now be easier to mark the border with China after finding the missing pillar."
There are 100 markers, including 79 main and 21 subsidiary ones, with the northern neighbor from east to west. The markers include pillars, rocks and other natural objects, according to the Survey Department.