Sat, 15 Aug, 2020

Editor's Column

Questions in my mind regarding the "Kalapani" issue

25-May-2020

By Bijina Regmi

Courtesy: Republica


These past many weeks have been one of the most difficult and challenging times for Nepal, due to the crisis of Coronavirus (COVID-19). At the same time issue of ‘Kalapani’ was also took its height. 

I was trying to find a topic for my article, at the same time I saw a post shared by my friend. It was a program where the participants from both the countries, Nepal and India, were debating about the border issue of Kalapani. After watching that program and reading different articles, so many queries regarding the issues came into my mind. Many of them are still not clear to me. 

So, in this article, I would like to list the questions that came in my mind and I am sharing this with you, so that you could help me and yourself to find the answers. You can also take this as a good opportunity to keep yourself engaged in doing research in this free lockdown period. 

  • Does  Nepal have sufficient facts, proofs, and logic to claim the territory? Can Nepal counter all the proofs that would be presented by the Indian side? 
  •  If Nepal already had such facts, proof, and logic then why wasn't it raised boldly in the past? Was Nepal so weak that it could not raise the voice before? 
  • If the land is very important for India and if it belongs to Nepal, aren’t there any other options for India? For example, to hand over the land and utilize it for common benefit with the consent of Nepal? And, also in the consent of China, if and when required. If the major issue is of security and trade, then the route may be used for common benefit. The security may be maintained by Nepal, ensuring China and India will not use it against one other. 
  • It is great to see the leader of all the parties, including the opposition parties, supporting the ruling party of Nepal to get the territory back. We also get a message that Nepali people are not divided into this issue, which is in a way positive thing. But are all Nepali people including the political parties going to be united throughout all issues of national interests like this or this unity is just for now and for a certain period?
  • Is it the time to use the hard and negative word against India, rather than moving forward diplomatically? Is the leadership truly dedicated and has some special plan for it or they just want to cash the sentiments of Nepali people?
  • What are the options for Nepal? Is Nepal doing adequate homework for all such possible options? What are the preparations for possible counter-steps that may be taken by India?
  • The hard work and struggle for survival is the historical national character of Nepali people. Britain has the ‘Gorkha Regiment’ but not other such regiments from India. Even India truly believes in the honesty and bravery of people from Nepali origin and gives  ‘Indian Gorkhas’, the most important and risky responsibilities. However, are Nepali citizens ready to face the worst situation, in case the situation would be worse? Or the voices are ‘seasonal Nepali nationalism’? Are Nepali people prepared for incase hard steps taken against Nepal, for example, blockade as in the past or any such hard steps may be taken by India?
  • We all know this pandemic has shaken up the whole world. Millions of people have died throughout. Not only in our country but the whole world will suffer through many crises. The reason I brought this up is to make a point in the current issue: Why was the road inaugurated by Indian authorities in the midst of the chaos (COVID-19 crisis)? Why was the road inaugurated by the defense minister of India, but not by other concerned ministers? Also, why were the participants mostly the defense personnel during the inauguration?
  • Why is Indian media very biased in this issue? Why do they keep on highlighting the involvement and support of China for Nepal in this issue? Are Indian authorities afraid of the majority of Indian citizens, who are in favor of the continuation of people relations between these two countries? Are they afraid of the reality that all proofs are in favor of Nepal’s claim? Are they trying to divert the main issue and confuse their citizen by mixing other so-called ‘Indian nationalism’ or to grab ‘Indian sentiments against China’? If so, will they further relate this issue with other imaginative funny issues to divert it from the main agenda?
  • In the midst of this critical situation, very, frankly speaking, it will be very difficult for Nepal to manage his own people, if they continue to return in a very large number, from aboard. If the situation continues for a longer duration, the economic condition of Nepal is gradually going to decline. Is India taking this as the best time to give pressure?
  • Does India want to close the open border but by the pressure from the Nepali side? So that all the negative consequences and anger of people from the Terai region will be raised towards the Nepalese government? Since, people who are getting different facilities and benefited until now will be stopped. At the same time it would be difficult for the Nepal government if they were able to boost Madheshi party or leaders in the name of any populist Madhesh related political issues.
  • Indian media is focusing more on a road to Mansarovar rather than its importance for trade and military purposes. Is India launching some kind of psychological warfare to get the support of the Indian population so that the majority neutral population and opposition parties will not be able to condemn any further wrong steps taken by the Indian government? ( As it could be covered up by ‘religious’ or ‘nationalism’ agenda.)
  • China knew all the consequences and surely was aware that the land is also claimed by Nepal, then why was it quiet? There is certainly no doubt that the flow of Indian tourists and trade routes will benefit them. The purpose of China to get ‘benefit from the trade and tourism’ will be fulfilled and the historical good relation of India-Nepal would be question marked. Does China really not want to come to these issues between two good neighbors for positive intentions, so that the dispute will be settled in a diplomatic way? Or there are some other reasons too?
  • Hindu religion is one of the most important parts of Indian politics. The Va. Ja. Pa. and most of the present top leaders of the party came from a strong religious belief. The present Prime Minister has started his journey from a ‘Chayawala’ and now a strong Prime Minister. This is a great example indeed. In addition to a good leader, honestly speaking, it seems he is a good individual also. He has sacrificed his family life. He has given statements several times that  ‘he is a true Hindu believer’, ‘he believes in truth and justice’, and ‘he has special affection and love towards Nepal and Nepali people. Will he and his major political leaders under his leadership heartily and honestly try to solve the issue? As this is the right time for him and his team to show that they are true Hindu believe,  above the ordinary leaders and believes in truth and justice. Or, they will again try to suppress the issue by one of the many options available for a powerful country against a small, peace-loving, and a country with comparatively many weak points? 
  • Some Indian media keep on repeating the comparison of the size of the military, economy, etc. There is no doubt that Nepal is and was comparatively weak in terms of the number of troops, equipment, or wealth. However, many times Nepal was able to defeat strong foreign forces in the past. Nepal is independent forever and never been colonized. In the worst case, Nepal and Nepali people may take very strong steps, which might be beyond the imagination. However, the issue is not much difficult to handle. It could be solved diplomatically. Both sides may verify all the documents and analyze the facts. However, honesty is essential from both sides. The continuation of confusion and controversy would not be beneficial for both countries. Are the leaders of both the countries ready and dedicated to solving the issue honestly?
  • India and Nepal have good people to people relations. Is it not a serious question of how to strengthen it and make it truly good relations? 

I am very hopeful that the readers will make habit of raising questions and find the analytical answers as I have raised many questions about this issue for example. I wrote whatever my little knowledge and a student could imagine. I respect all political leaders and parties of Nepal. I have equal respect for India and its leaders. To be biased for own interests is a common human character. I may be biased while writing this article but I am sure that leaders from both countries will not be biased. Mainly, as a large and powerful country, I am sure the Indian side will show their big heart. Lastly, I am sure that both  India and Nepal will solve this issue diplomatically based on truth and justice.

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