Nepal political map ‘crosses a line,’ warns India

Nepalese students shout slogans during a protest on May 11 against the Indian government inaugurating a new road through a disputed territory. (AP)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Nepal political map ‘crosses a line,’ warns India

  • Those areas ‘belong to Nepal,’ says Prime Minister Krishna Prasad

NEW DELHI: India is facing a new territorial dispute with its northern neighbor, Nepal, which has published a political map that includes territory claimed by both countries.

The war of words between the two countries comes amid growing border tensions between New Delhi and China.  

On Wednesday, Nepal published a political map showing the regions of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh within its borders, with the country’s Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Oli saying that the areas “belong to Nepal and we have vowed to reclaim them through political and diplomatic efforts.”

New Delhi called the move a “unilateral act” and said it was “not based on historical facts and evidence.”

“Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India. We urge the government of Nepal to refrain from such unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.

He urged the Nepalese to “create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues.”

The friction began in November, when New Delhi issued a new political map showing Kalapani and Lipulekh as part of its northern state of Uttrakhand and inaugurated a road linking it to the region.

FASTFACT

Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava urged the Nepalese to “create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues.”

Nepal claims the disputed area, citing an 1816 treaty with the British East India Company that set the Kali River as its boundary with India and the land lying east of it as Nepalese territory.

New Delhi claims that the area is part of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district.

Indian Foreign Ministry sources told Arab News that Nepal’s prime minister “is playing an anti-India card to whip up ultra-nationalistic emotions to settle domestic political scores.”

Amid a boundary dispute with China, Indian Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane last week hinted that Nepal is objecting to the construction of the Lipulekh road at the “behest of someone else.”

India and China have accused each other of trespassing the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and both have sent troops to the border in the Ladakh area of Kashmir.

On Thursday, India blamed China for “hindering” Indian patrols at the border.

“All Indian activities are entirely on the Indian side of the LAC. In fact, it is Chinese side that has recently undertaken activity hindering India’s normal patrolling patterns,” the Foreign Ministry said, adding that New Delhi is “committed to work for the common objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas.”

While opinions on Nepal’s move and its relations with China are divided, experts agree that diplomacy is needed to defuse the tension.

New Delhi-based Nepali journalist Suresh Raj said: “The misunderstanding should be settled at the diplomatic level, and it’s wrong to claim that Nepal is playing at the hands of China.”

A former Indian ambassador to Nepal, Jaynat Prasad, told Arab News: “The two countries should drop all formalities and sit down and try to defuse the situation as soon as possible. The more it festers, the more it will help create bad blood between India and Nepal.

“It reflects badly on us. We should remedy this. We solved far more complicated issues of land and maritime boundary disputes with Bangladesh only a few years ago. Compared with them, the issue with Nepal is small,” he said.

Pranay Kotasthane, of the Bangalore-based think tank Takshashila Institution, said: “The Lipulekh-Kalapani issue itself is not news and has been discussed between India and Nepal many times. But publishing a new map now after the road to Lipulekh was completed is an escalation. Nepal is able to do this because it knows it can play China off against India and get better outcomes from both.

“Smaller neighbors will try to play off China and India. But they realize that India is the only big power in the immediate vicinity.

“In terms of strategy, I don’t think this will have a long-term impact. India’s growth benefits all its neighbors. Ultimately, it is power — economic and military — that will make India a bigger player,” he added.


US passes 9 million coronavirus cases as infections spike

Updated 31 October 2020

US passes 9 million coronavirus cases as infections spike

  • On Friday the US set a record for new daily infections of more than 94,000 in 24 hours
  • More than 229,000 people have died of the virus in the US since the pandemic began

WASHINGTON: The United States passed nine million reported coronavirus cases on Friday and broke its own record for daily new infections for the second day in a row, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, as Covid-19 surges days before the country chooses its next president.
The US, which has seen a resurgence of its outbreak since mid-October, has now notched up 9,034,295 cases, according to a real-time count by the Baltimore-based school.
On Friday the country set a record for new daily infections of more than 94,000 in 24 hours, breaking the record of 91,000 it had set just one day earlier.
With the virus spreading most rampantly in the Midwest and the South, hospitals are also filling up again, stretching the health care system just as the nation heads in to flu season.
"We are not ready for this wave," Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University school of public health, warned on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday.

COVID-19 tally by the John Hopkins University of Medicine as of October 30, 2020.

Authorities in El Paso, Texas, imposed a curfew this week to protect "overwhelmed" health care workers and began setting up field hospitals.
But a judge's attempt to shut down non-essential businesses in the city has been challenged by the mayor and the state's attorney general, the Washington Post reported.
Midwestern state Wisconsin has also set up a field hospital in recent weeks, and hospital workers in Missouri were sounding warning bells as cases rise.
Hospitals in the western state of Utah were preparing to ration care by as early as next week as patients flood their ICUs, according to local media.
The pattern of the pandemic so far shows that hospitalizations usually begin to rise several weeks after infections, and deaths a few weeks after that.
More than 229,000 people have died of the virus in the US since the pandemic began, the Hopkins tally showed as of Friday, with the daily number of deaths creeping steadily upwards in recent weeks also -- though at present it remains below peak levels.
For months public health officials have been warning of a surge in cases as cooler fall weather settles over the US, driving more people indoors.
As the weather changes, New York and other parts of the northeast, which were the epicenter of the US outbreak in the spring but largely controlled the virus over the summer, were reporting a worrying rise.
Some epidemiologists believe that Covid-19 spreads more easily in drier, cool air.
Rural areas, which in the spring appeared to be getting off lightly compared to crowded cities, were also facing spikes with states like North Dakota charting one of the steepest rises in recent weeks.
The state is so overwhelmed that earlier this month it told residents they have to do their own contact tracing, local media reported.
With four days to go until the election, Donald Trump was battling to hold on to the White House against challenger Joe Biden, who has slammed the president's virus response.
"It is as severe an indictment of a president's record as one can possibly imagine, and it is utterly disqualifying," Biden said Friday as the toll passed nine million.
Trump downplays the virus even as the toll has been accelerating once more, holding a slew of rallies with little social distancing or mask use.
He has repeatedly told supporters that the country is "rounding the curve" on Covid infections.
But Americans, wary of crowded polling booths on Election Day as the virus spreads, are voting early in record numbers.