Nepalis protest India for controversial border map

KATHMANDU, Nepal

Dozens of Nepalese on Thursday protested against India in the country’s capital and several parts of the country over a political map that Nepal has claimed shows a region in the country’s northwest as Indian territory.

On Thursday, supporters of a student organization affiliated to the opposition Nepali Congress party marched outside the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, carrying signs that read: “Back Off India”, while others have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #BackoffIndia to protest the map.

On Wednesday, Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement reaffirming that the region, known as Kalapani in Nepal, was part of his country’s territory.

Kalapani is a 35 square kilometer (13.5 square miles) area in Nepal’s far western region. Once serving as a trade route between India and what is now southwestern China, the strategic area was “occupied” by India after New Delhi withdrew its border forces following its war with China, according to Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, former director general of Nepal’s Survey Department.

The area borders the Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Nepal and India have held a series of talks to resolve the boundary dispute, but Kalapani and the Susta area in southern Nepal remain two major sticking points in negotiations, according to Gokul Prasad Baskota, Nepal’s communication and information technology minister.

However, an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed the region was part of India.

“Our map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India. The new map in no manner has revised our boundary with Nepal,” said Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

He reiterated India’s “commitment to find a solution through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations.”

“At the same time, both countries should guard against vested interests trying to create differences between our two countries

India and Nepal share an 1,800-kilometer (1,118 miles) open border, with thousands of people from both countries crossing the frontier for work and travel.

Relations between the two countries were strained after Nepal blamed India for imposing a border blockade in 2015, which crippled supplies to the landlocked nation.
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