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Road dispute between India and Nepal, India rejects claim on border road to Mansarovar

Ground Report | News Desk

Nepal has protested India’s inauguration of the route from Dharchula in Uttarakhand to Lipulekh with a statement from the foreign ministry contending the road “passes through Nepali territory”.

Nepal on Saturday raised objections to the inauguration of a road by India that passes through disputed territory.

The Link Road was opened a day before by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. It connects Dharchula in Uttarakhand to the Lipu Lekh pass near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) — India’s border with China.

India says the new road will facilitate the movement of pilgrims to Kailash-Mansarovar, significantly cutting down the duration of the journey.

The southern side of the Lipu Lekh pass, called the Kalapani territory, is a disputed region between India and Nepal.

“The Government of Nepal has learnt with regret about the ‘inauguration’ yesterday by India of ‘Link Road’ connecting to Lipu Lekh (Nepal), which passes through Nepali territory,” a statement from Nepal’s foreign ministry said. “This unilateral act runs against the understanding reached between the two countries including at the level of Prime Ministers that a solution to boundary issues would be sought through negotiation.”

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Nepal also asked India to cease activities inside its “territory”.

“The Government of Nepal calls upon the Government of India to refrain from carrying out any activity inside the territory of Nepal.”

However India rejected Kathmandu’s protest against the construction of a road to Lipulekh on the border with China, saying the region is “completely within the territory of India” and both sides can resolve boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue.

“The recently inaugurated road section in Pithoragarh district in the state of Uttarakhand lies completely within the territory of India. The road follows the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava, told the media at a press briefing.

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Srivastava added that both countries are in the process of planning foreign secretary-level talks, the dates for which will be finalised once the two governments successfully deal with the coronavirus crisis.