No border marks in Kalapani, locals at mercy of Indian administration
Ram Chandra Bhandari
Kathmandu, 10 November (2019) – Nepali people are angry with the newly published political map of India that shows Nepali territory of Lipu-lekh and Kalapani inside India.
Kalapani, Lipu-lekh and Limpiyadhura are in Byas Rural Municipality of Darchula district in far western province of Nepal. India has illegally encroached upon those lands and has forbidden Nepali people to go there. Nepalis have to obtain a permit card to go to the Nepali territories that are miles away from lands which India has encroached upon.
Many Nepalis do not know the real condition of Kalapani and Lipu-lekh. But India has been in control of these territories for the last six decades. Lokantar has talked with Dilip Budhathoki, Chairperson of Byas Rural Municipality about these forgotten territories. Excerpts follow:
India has issued permit cards
Lipu-lekh and Kalapani are completely under India’s control. They have been in control of these lands since 1962 and Nepal has not made its presence felt.
Chhangru village is some 17 kilometres far from Kalapani and that is the last Nepali village not under India’s control. Chhangru is in Ward no. 1 in Byas Rural Municipality.
We have to obtain permit cards from the Indian administration to go to Chhangru. Nepali citizens cannot enter Kalapani. Indians don’t give pass to go to Kalapani. It is off-limits for Nepali people.
Indian Army and Seema Suraksha Bal have settled in Kalapani. Some civilians are there to do business.
Our roads to Chhangru are bad. So, we have to use Indian roads. It takes a whole day to reach Chhangru from the district headquarters of Darchula. Half the vehicle journey needs to be done through Indian roads while half the journey requires trekking. Once we reach Sitapul (Seeta Bridge) through Indian roads, we have to cross a wooden bridge and then reach Chhangru.
Tinker Pass is above Chhangru. The pillar demarcating Nepal-China border is there. Our business border with China is Tinker Pass.
Nepali roads to Tinker Pass are bad. We can reach there only on foot. Since it is difficult to use mule as beast of burden on these roads, there is no alternative to Indian roads for travel.
Following the local level elections, we have been prioritizing construction of roads to Tinker Pass. But in lack of human settlement and due to geographical difficulty, we have not been able to make roads. That area is vulnerable to floods and landslips in the rainy season.
During India-China War in 1961 the then King Mahendra allowed to Indians to make a temporary base in Kalapani. But India never went away since then. Indian Army has made a permanent base there.
Indian administration’s condescending attitude
No problem exists at the civilian level. People from the same community live both sides of the border.
Indigenous people live in both Chhangru and Tinker and similar people live across the border as well. Local people have cordial relationship but Indian administration shows condescending attitude.
They have not subjected me to any untoward behaviour. But their attitude to Nepali people is not good. There are many complaints regarding India’s patronising tendency.
Limpiyadhura and Lipu-lekh are also under Indian control. It is believed that Sage Byas wrote some scripts (lipi) at Lipu-lekh before going to Mansarovar to do penance. But these scripts are not available now.
Lipu-lekh is a trilateral border point among Nepal, India and China. But India has encroached upon Nepali territory for decades. They have been using the border point to conduct trade with China.
The zero (0) pillar demarcating trilateral border is missing. People say that it used to exist but we never saw it.
All eastern lands from Kali River is Nepali territory. Lipu-lekh is the originating place of Kali River. Nepali villages including Kuti, Nabi, Gunji used to be there.
A small stream merges with Kali River in Kalapani and Indians claim that it is the source of Kali River. On this basis they have encroached upon Nepal’s lands westward from that stream.
No security personnel
Armed Police Force has the mandate to protect borders but they don’t go beyond Khalanga, headquarters of Darchula district. Nepal Army’s base in also in the headquarters. Chhayalek Police Station is around a kilometre away from Tinker Village. Police personnel don’t stay there during winter. Even the locals come down for six months during winter.
There is another police outpost in Sitapul. Policemen in Chhayalek have already come down to Sitapul. During high winter, they come down even lower at a place called Dumling.
Nepal remains absent even in Nepali territory for six months.
After getting elected to the post of Rural Municipality Chief, I approached the Ministry of Home Affairs with the demand of erecting armed police post in Chhangru. The Ministry has approved my request but there are delays in erecting the post.
We have demanded a permanent outpost of Armed Police Force in Chhangru.
Kalapani and Lipu-lekh are our territories
India has to correct its map. Nepal Government has to ask the Indian government to amend the map and also ensure Nepal’s permanent presence in Kalapani area. It is the duty of the federal government to protect international border.
The federal government also needs to construct Khalanga-Tinker road so that Nepali people do not have to obtain permit cards from the Indians to go to their own lands.
Translated by Bindesh Dahal