By Preeta Rana
The President Bidya Bhandari has directed the government to issue a new political map of Nepal incorporating Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as these areas have been encroached and occupied by India.
The Indian side has even refused to sit for talks to resolve the dispute based on historical evidence including the Sugauli Treaty that defines the border between Nepal and India.
President Bidya Bhandari is a born nationalist cum Communist who lost her husband and college time friend Madan Bhandari in a jeep accident which according to record is still an unsolved crime not as simple accident. Her whole life stands for protecting the sovereignty of Nepal against powerful, resourceful, and aggressive neighbouring India.
Her political career began from a leftist student union and she joined the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist–Leninist) in 1980 and got married to her friend and Comrade Madan Bhandari in 1982.
On May 16, 1993, Bhandari died in a car accident in Dasdhunga, Chitwan. According to an investigation led by K.P. Oli (Now Prime Minister of Nepal), it was not an accident but an unsolved murder. Of the three people inside the car, only the driver Amar Lama survived. Driver Amar Lama, was murdered 10 years later in 2003. A group of unidentified gunmen abducted Lama from the office of Tajakhabar Weekly tabloid and his bullet-ridden dead body was found on the southwestern outskirts of Kathmandu. This case is also unsolved.
Communist circles believe that Comrade Madan Bhandari was murdered because the Communist Party was gaining ground among masses and murder of Madam also created problems for King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah. So India killed two birds with one arrow.
Amar Lama was murdered after 10 years because he was becoming a threat to some people within corridors of power under King Gyanendra’s rule.
One should not forget that King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah was also murdered along with his family in June 2001 when his son Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah allegedly sprayed bullets on his entire family including father (King Birendra), mother, sister and brother and then he allegedly committed suicide. This event looks like a Bollywood Film plot for everybody but everybody was so scared that nobody ever talked openly about this gruesome end of King Family in Nepal.
“Nepal is (was) weak, small, resourceless but it was a Kingdom of a King and King could not accept to live like the second fiddle of New Delhi and he could not share his Kingdom as a part of Indian territory”
However, retired government officials and old politicians in private talks indicate that the persecution of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah was written on the wall because King Bikram was swiftly and courageously drifting him away from New Delhi and was looking at Beijing with more clarity.
During his last visit to China, King Bikram held top-level meetings with the Chinese leadership on March 2, 2001, including Li Peng, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Premier Zhu Rongji of the State Council, and the then Vice-President Hu Jintao.
His move to shift his Foreign Policy from India to China made New Delhi uncomfortable with King Bikram Shah during his last three years of rule and his constant tilt towards China was “Unacceptable” for New Delhi. King Bikram was murdered within the next three months of his last visit to China.
“Nepal is (was) weak, small, resourceless but it was a Kingdom of a King and King could not accept to live like the second fiddle of New Delhi and he could not share his Kingdom as a part of Indian territory,” said a former military officer of King’s Guards with the condition of anonymity.
Chairman of the Nepalese Maoist Party Pushpa Kamal Dahal the claimed that the massacre was planned by the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)
Political spheres claim that everything was achieved by New Delhi in Nepal after the murder of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah and businessman brother of King Bikram Shah — Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was installed as the new King whose main areas of investment and businesses had been India and South Africa.
Interestingly, nobody from Gyanendra was a victim of the massacre in the Palace although his wife and daughter Prerana were in the room at the royal palace during the massacre. While the entire families of Birendra and Dipendra were killed, nobody in Gyanendra’s family died.
It is on the record that Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), the chairman of the Nepalese Maoist Party claimed that the massacre was planned by the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Nepal went through an unpleasant transitional period with almost complete economic dependence over New Delhi under King Gyanendra and sovereignty and border security of Nepal were virtually handed over to New Delhi by King Gyanendra.
How Nepal was run after the killing of King Shah can be judged by an article written by veteran Nepali Diplomat, former Ambassador of Nepal in India, and former Foreign Minister of Nepal Bhekh Bahadur Thapa in Naya Patrika newspaper published on August 13, 2015.
He wrote in his article:
When I was Nepal’s Ambassador to India from 1997 to 2003, there was a meeting of Nepali and Indian survey officers in New Delhi to sort out border disputes. Nepali survey officers were well-prepared, with experts like Buddhi Narayan Shrestha and they presented verified maps showing Kalapani as a part of Nepali territory with land revenue receipts from Nepali citizens residing between Limpiyadhura and Kalapani to prove it.
Indian survey officers did not have such strong evidence to claim Kalapani was in India and could not refute the proof presented by the Nepali team. Even so, the meeting ended inconclusively.
I organized a reception for the Nepali survey officers at the Embassy, where the Director-General of India’s Survey Department was also present. I told him that prolonging the border dispute would harm relations between the two countries.
“We presented all the necessary documents, why would we want to delay a resolution of the issue?” I asked. His reply: “His Highness gave Kalapani to us.” He did not say ‘His Majesty’, meaning that someone besides the king had granted Kalapani to India. I maintained that not even the king or parliament had the right to hand over territory to a foreign country. He did not reply.
Later, India’s National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra told me: “Our force does not feel secure to pull out of Kalapani.”
So I said to him: “Do you want me to report to my government that Indian forces do not want to leave Kalapani though the land belongs to Nepal?” That was the last conversation I ever had with the Indian authorities about Kalapani. A few years later, there was regime change in Nepal and new rulers were increasingly convinced that they could attain and cling to power only with Indian intervention. Now, the Kalapani issue seems to have fizzled out”.
A group of Nepali journalists reported in year 2004 that they were intercepted by the Indian Army when they were roaming about in their own (Nepali) territory along with steep banks of the Mahakali.
Nepali journalists reported this event in newspapers stating that they saw Red Warning Flag along the eastern bank of the Mahakali and an Indian Border security check post although disputed part of Kalapani was still another five kilometers where the river bifurcates but they were stopped by Indian security forces and went through harassment and questioning of Indian forces who also destroyed their camera films.
“Indo-Tibetan Border Police approached and asked us who we were and why we were there. We told him we are journalists. He pointed to a barren mountain to the east and explained that was the border. He finally let us go, but not before one of his assistants had exposed the film in the camera,” wrote a journalist in his article.
He also indicated in his article that
no one in Kathmandu answers this mystery when journalists contacted officials for an answer.
Nepali journalists stated that the vacuum created by the withdrawal of all border police posts along Nepal’s western border with India by King Gyanendra gave justification to India to install its rule in Nepali lands by using the so-called Maoists insurgency as a justification.
The end of the Gyanendra rule did not diminish New Delhi’s interference in Kathmandu because Girija Prasad Koirala was also as close to India as was King Gyanendra.
The government led by the Communist Party is yet not clear how much backing Nepal would receive from China in case Kathmandu will have some serious standoff with India
Now the damage is done and Nepal is not strong enough to stand against India although government led by Communist Party is reclaiming psychological sovereignty President Bidya Bhandari remembers the abrupt end of her marital and love life with the sad demise of her husband and Nepali people remember the horrific massacre of King’s family that took place in Palace.
The government led by the Communist Party is yet not clear how much backing Nepal would receive from China in case Kathmandu will have some serious standoff with India.
The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping on October 12, 2019, to Kathmandu was a warning sign for New Delhi as this was first state visit by a Chinese President to Nepal after Jing Zemin visited Kathmandu in 1996 to invite King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah to China.
One of the poorest countries in South Asia— Nepal is a sandwich between rich and powerful neighbours —-India and China who have their own interests and their own issues with each other.
Will Nepal accept the occupation of its lands by India or will it raise this issue internationally? is a question every Nepali is asking Kathmandu.