India and Nepal pledge to restart border mechanisms
(27 June 2009)On 20 June, visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshanker Menon and Nepalese Prime Minister Madhav Kumar agreed to peacefully resolve their border disputes and to reactivate existing local level border cooperation mechanisms.
Several Nepalese media reports in May and June 2009 accused Indian security forces of harassing Nepalese border villages in the Dang district. On 7 June 2009 the Nepali Constituent Assembly sent a fact-finding mission to investigate the matter. While the Nepali Constituent Assembly delegation confirmed the media reports of Indian encroachment, surveyors sent to the Dang area by Indian authorities denied that any incidents have occurred within Nepali territory.
The India-Nepal boundary has long been a subject of disagreement between the two neighbouring states. As Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, explained, most of the boundary separating the two countries was agreed in December 2007 when strip maps were signed by experts from both sides. However, some 2% of the boundary relating to the Susta and Kalapani areas (respectively in the Nawalparasi and Darchula districts) remained unresolved. The most common border disagreements concern river boundary sections where rivers have changed their course. Problems also surface along sections where old boundary pillars may have disappeared if no review of demarcation has taken place.
During the Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit to Nepal, Indian authorities committed to investigate any boundary violations in the Dang district and punish those found guilty. In addition to reactivating local border mechanisms, reports suggest that during the meeting between Menon and the Nepalese Prime Minister Kumar, the Indian delegation proposed signing new maps that would pave the way for an investigation of old pillars along sections where there may be confusion about boundary definition. With diplomatic relations strengthened, the two sides hope that establishing clear bilateral border mechanisms will contain any violations from either side in the Dang area and elsewhere along the boundary.
Sources: ‘India encroached Nepal’s land, says Constituent Assembly delegations’ Thaindian News, 14 June 2009; ‘Nepal, India to reactivate bilateral border mechanism’ The Press Trust of India Limited, 20 June 2009; ‘India ready to look into border dispute with Nepal’ Xinhua News Agency, 21 June 2009; ‘Nepal PM expresses commitment to resolve Indian border dispute’ BBC Monitoring South Asia, 18 June 2009; ‘Consensus is the need of the hour’ The Kathamandu Post, 15 June 2009.