Photo From Kantipur

Under the pressure of some party leaders, the Prime Minister should not have formed a committee on border issues in such a light-hearted manner. It made him immature," said Budhinarayan Shrestha, a border expert.

Kathmandu,

The government has decided to send a team to Namkha in Humla, which borders China, to study whether Nepali territory has been encroached or not.  The Council of Ministers on Wednesday decided to form a high-level task force comprising Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, officers of the Survey Department and border experts under the coordination of the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs.  Experts on the border and diplomatic issues have said that the government's decision could lead to tensions in Nepal-China relations.

Nepali Congress leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Vimalendra Nidhi and Karnali Pradesh Congress parliamentary party leader and central member Jeevan Bahadur Shahi have been claiming that Nepali territory has encroached from China in Namkha.  Both leaders demanded that the government investigate the matter.  Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who has also assumed the responsibility of the foreign minister under the same pressure, has decided to form a study task force on the issue from the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

"The team has been instructed to study the border from Limi and Lapcha to Hilsa in Humla and submit a report to the government," said Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, government spokesperson and Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.  The team visited Namkha village municipality ward no. Will study the border areas of 5 and 6.

During the government led by UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had made it clear that Nepali territory in the region was not encroached by China.  But some Congress leaders have been pushing for an investigation into the alleged border crossing in Namkha from China.  According to sources, the last time Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Deuba met with officials and central members close to him on July 10, leaders Nidhi and Shahi had put pressure on him to form an investigation committee.

The issue was also raised during the coalition government's formulation of a common minimum program.  However, the issue was not included in the program due to disagreement with the Maoist centre.  Former Minister Shahi had claimed that the Nepali territory with pillar number 11 in Namkha Gaonpalika-6, Limi had encroached from China.  However, the foreign ministry said there was no encroachment on the border area.

Leader Shahi and Karnali Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi did not seek permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs.  The border areas of 5 and 6 were monitored.  The Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs had expressed dissatisfaction.  The issue of Chinese encroachment on Nepali land in Namkha has been raised in the Congress Central Working Committee before.

A team led by Congress leader Shahi had inspected the Lalungjong area in Namkha Gaonpalika-6 of Humla in September 2077 BS and concluded that Nepal had crossed the Nepali border.  After the inspection report was sent to the party's central committee alleging that China had encroached on the border, the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanchi had denied the allegation that the royal name had been crossed.

The Nepal-China border area is about 1,414 km long.  The dispute has been resolved since 23 December 2077, after technicians from both countries measured the common height of Mount Everest.  Nepal is taking initiative for the solution saying that pillar number 57 in Tippa has been buried in such a way that 6 hectares of land have been buried.  Technical teams from both countries are taking initiative to include it in the process of preparing updated details of the border area.  The government has tried to bring Namkha into dispute even though there are no border disputes in other places.

Border expert Budhinarayan Shrestha said that the previous government's saying one thing and now bringing out another issue has shown immaturity in foreign and border issues.  "The decision to deploy a government study/investigation team with the intention of re-establishing the dispute, even though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated in the previous government that there is no dispute on this issue, should be aware of the negative impact on diplomatic relations between the two countries," he told Kantipur.  A government secretary warned that the cabinet decision could have a negative impact on relations between the two countries.  "Under pressure from some party leaders, the prime minister should not have formed a committee on border issues in such a light-hearted manner. It has made him immature," he said.

Border expert Shrestha suggested the government to deal with such issues only on the basis of scientific facts and evidence, treaties and agreements between the two countries and documents.  The dispute came to the fore after Humla Assistant Chief District Officer Dattaraj Hamal said that Nepali territory was encroached from China by conducting on-site monitoring in the last week of August 2077 BS.  Afterwards, Chinese Ambassador Yanchi met with foreign officials and expressed dissatisfaction with the allegations.  After that, the foreign ministry had clarified that there was no dispute.  At the same time, the Ministry of Home Affairs had asked Assistant Commissioner Hamal for clarification on September 26, 2077, saying that he had prepared a controversial report.  He later apologized for making the wrong statement.  The House then directed the District Administration Office to conduct further study of the Limi area on September 20.

A team of Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Investigation Department officials including the then prisoner Chiranjeevi Giri had reached the area where the dispute took place.  The team found the missing pillar covered in stone.  However, Shahi, a Congress parliamentary party leader from Karnali, who had inspected the border area for 11 days in September, had prepared a report on "disturbances" by China in six places in Humla alone.

According to the report, China has encroached on Nepali land in Lalungjong and built physical infrastructure, China has encroached about 2 km road from Gappudocha to Nepal, the alignment of the newly constructed boundary pillar No. 12 in Lapcha Bhanjyang has been completely changed.  It is mentioned that the gate has been constructed, the boundary pillars numbered 5 (1) and 5 (2) have been fenced and placed in their area and the texture of the old boundary pillars and the script of the letters have also been found different.  The decision to form a team for the study was taken by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday on the basis of the same details submitted by Shahi to the then Congress party office.

The Nepal-China Border Relationship

According to border expert Shrestha, Nepal-China border relations have been developed on the basis of border supervision in 1960 and the treaty signed in October 1961.  On the basis of that, the Nepal-China Boundary Protocol (also known as the Border Charter) was signed in 1962.  Foreign Minister Rishikesh Shah signed the agreement on behalf of Nepal.  According to Shrestha, 79 large poles to determine the Nepal-China border have been laid after the signing.  It was renewed in 1979.  The protocol on renewal was signed by Nepal's Foreign Minister KB Shahi.  The third renewal took place in 1988.  At that time, an 11-member team led by Foreign Minister Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya had gone to Beijing.  Budhinarayan Shrestha, the then Director-General of the Survey Department, was also part of the team.

After that, no border protocol could be signed between the two countries, Shrestha said.  ‘Boundary protocols were to be signed every 10 to 15 years.  However, due to untimely signing, disputes have arisen in some border areas, 'he said.' Teams from both countries have been working since 2006 to address this.  It is not good for the government to focus on that and engage in diplomatic activities where there is no dispute. '