Nepal is landlocked; borders with China in the north and India in the South, East, West while Bangladesh is located 27 kilometres of South-Eastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by Sikkim. The India-Nepal border is 1690 kilometres long, which was defined after the Sugauli treaty of 1815 between Nepal and East India Company. There are six proper border crossings and fifteen small official and unofficial crossings between India and Nepal. The first treaty between the two countries was signed in 1950 known as peace and friendship treaty. Nepal is important in the middle of Himalayan frontiers because it acts as buffer state from any invasion from north (China). Secondly, rivers originating in Nepal feed the river system of India as done by rivers from Chinese Tibet. Many Hindus and Buddhist pilgrimage sites are in Nepal, making it an important destination for large number of Hindus from India. Therefore, Nepal is strategically important for the national security of India.

Since 1954, the Kosi agreement has been in place between India and Nepal to regulate the flow of the river and to ensure flood management. Various disputes emerged over the agreement after the floods in Kosi region. Nepal considers India’s constructions as encroachment on its territorial sovereignty. During the 1962 war, India supported Nepali opposition forces against Nepal and also facilitated them to operate from their camps in India. After 1988, when there was no consensus on previous treaties with India, Nepal faced an economic blacked in 1989 which lasted until 1990. In 2015, the government of Nepal agreed to resolve long civil war and a new constitution was promulgated on 20 September 2015 which was backed by more than 90 percent of elected constituent assembly.

Instead of congratulating Nepal on the new constitution, India showed its concern over tension in border regions. Indian concern is that constitution denies the rights of Madheshis living on borders having close links with India. India demanded a separate federating unit for Madheshis of southern Terai plains. India with the support of Madheshi allies imposed a blockade on Nepal. Blockade resulted in shortage of fuel, medicine and essential supplies. Restriction on movement of goods from India into Nepal actually started on 20 September 2015, the day the new constitution was promulgated. Another reason of embargo was visit of Nepal by high level Chinese officials in September 2015 and Nepali official visit of Beijing. This made India suspicious that the constitution had been promulgated with Chinese backing. In November 2019, India published a revised political map where Kala Pani of Darchula district of Nepal was shown as a part of Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. On 8 May 2020, Indian defence minister inaugurated the 80 kilometres Darchula- Lipulekh Pass link road across disputed Kala Pani which is used by Indian pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar. Kala Pani derives the name from River Kali which is part of Nepal according to treaty of Sugauli which was ratified in 1816. Kala Pani is 35 square kilometres area situated in Nepal. Similarly, the Lipulekh Pass claim is also based on Sugauli treaty and pass is used by Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims on the way to Kailash Mansarovar. Pass is important to India because of its strategic location and close proximity to India and can be of concern in case of war with China. It is also taken as one of the vulnerabilities of India as Chinese may attack through this pass as done during 1962 war through Se la Tawang pass. Indian claim is that it was handed over to them by King Mahendra for security reasons and India deployed its forces here in 1959.

The Nepali government rejected the construction of road through their territory and at the same time, India also rejected Nepali claims. The Nepalese government has also rejected the new Indian political map as its areas situated in the far west have been included as Indian territory. Nepal has published a revised map incorporating the territory from Limpiyadhura source of Kali river to Kala Pani and Lipulekh Pass in the north east of triangular region as its territory. Constitutional status has been given to the map by the cabinet led by Prime Minister K.P Sharma. Nepali prime minister asserted that Lipulekh, Kala Pani and Limpiyadhura belongs to Nepal and wowed to reclaim them from India and to not let this issue fade out hoping it will be sorted out through concrete efforts and territories will be reclaimed. He further said that Nepal would bring back Kala Pani and Lipulekh Pass at any cost. The Nepali government has moved a bill in the parliament to get the new maps passed on emergency basis. Nepal has deployed its armed police force (APF) next to Lipulekh border and setting up border posts at Kala Pani and other border areas.

Nepali defence minister has condemned the Indian army chief statement as insulting to his countrymen specially Gorkhas serving Indian army. Indian army chief made a direct reference to China’s alleged role in the road dispute and said Nepal raised the issue on the behest of China. There are at least 40 battalions of Gorkhas in the Indian army which draw bulk of soldiers from Nepal. The name “Gorkha” comes from the hill town of Gorkha from which the Nepali kingdom had expanded. It was because of continued hardship and blackmailing by India, China has come forward to rescue Nepal. China railway is all set to come up to Nepal by 2022 and there are nine roads linking Chinese Tibet with Nepal. A video of a Nepali blind person Ramesh Prasia has gone viral because of his remarkable oratory and extremely well explained territorial claims of Nepal with authority. Nepali people protested across Nepal on this move of India, also in front of India’s embassy burning Modi’s effigy and carrying signs that read “Back off India”. Nepal was never under control of colonial rule. Therefore, its integral areas Limpiyadhura, Kala Pani and Lipulekh, occupied by India since 1962, must be returned. The world is not the way it used to be. India has to accept the claim of Nepal and its sovereignty which is based on historical facts.