To avoid backlash from his own party PM Oli removes 2 new border outposts near Uttarakhand, India

To avoid backlash from his own party PM Oli removes 2 new border outposts near Uttarakhand, India

On Monday, the Nepalese government removed two of the border outposts (BOP) it recently inaugurated along borders of India’s Dharchula area in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district. Amid the ongoing tensions between India and Nepal over latter’s release of new map which claimed some of the Indian territories, Nepalese government inaugurated many new border outposts along borders adjoining India’s Uttarakhand. Since May 8, Kathmandu has inaugurated 7 border outposts, in protests of New Delhi’s opening of crucial Ghatiyabagar- Lipulekh road. Due to Nepalese aggressive stand against India, the tensions between the two had been on rise. Once considered friendly neighbours, today their relationship strained especially after country’s parliament passed a new map which showed part of India in the Lipulekh-Kalapani area as Nepalese territory. 

Objecting to Nepal’s decision, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), on May 20 said, “The Government of Nepal has released a revised official map of Nepal today that includes parts of Indian territory. This unilateral action is not based on historical facts and evidence. It is contrary to the bilateral understanding to resolve the outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue. Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India.”

This led to rise in Prime Minister KP Oli’s criticisms over his handling of affairs, which completely bypassed the option of diplomatic dialogue with India. The situation at home turned so tense that Oli even blamed India for attempting to topple his government. This outrageous remake further irked senior leaders of Oli’s Nepalese Communist Party (NCP) who now started demanding his resignation over the allegations against a ‘friendly neighbour’. 

Oli’s NCP standing committee which decided to hold a meeting about Oli’s future on Monday, postponed it to Wednesday. Removal of BOPs was seen by many as Oli’s way of trying to undo things to reduce his chances of being uprooted. 

Confirming the removal of the border posts, Anil Kumar Shukla, sub-divisional magistrate of Dharchula said, “The two border outposts manned by NSP were removed two days ago.”

Shukla said, “We noticed it during a brief meeting with Nepalese authorities a few days ago at the check post. When we enquired about it, they said it was done on order of higher authorities.”

Another official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The two outposts that were removed were located in Ukku and Bakra areas of their Darchula district near Indo-Nepal border.”

“There are reports that three more newly set up Nepal border outposts would soon be removed, which is a major development,” he said.

SDM Shukla said that the cost of maintaining the posts in such remote areas could have been the key factor in their removal.

“It seems their move came after the purpose, for which the border outposts were set up, was not served,” he said.

“They were largely set up amid the territorial dispute to check on illegal activities, if any, and the movement of Indian forces at the border. But, as illegal activities are mainly confined to drug trafficking or smuggling at a minor scale through this border, their purpose was not served. And on top of that, the cost of maintaining these posts with men at such a remote location was significantly high. Hence, they removed the two posts,” said Shukla.

L L Verma, a retired professor of political science at Kumaon University and a close observer of Indo-Nepal ties said, “The removal of the outposts by Nepal signifies the change in its approach towards India amid tensions and PM Oli’s slipping grip in the government.”

Oil’s policies and territorial claims on land near Indo-Nepal border could put Nepal in economic and political disadvantageous position.

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