Furious Nepal bans Indian news as tensions heighten

Tensions between India and Nepal have hit a fever pitch as Nepal bans Indian news channels. It had earlier issued maps claiming a disputed territory with India as its own. It seems that India's own backyard has lost no love for the country, and it comes amid a time when India is increasingly on the back foot against China.

Nepal ban Indian news

Cable operators in Nepal have stopped airing all private Indian news channels. India’s national news network Doordarshan has however been exempted from this ban.

The ban was implemented on Thursday after a final decision was taken by the foreign channel distributors Multi-System Operators (MSOs) following massive online criticism of the coverage of Nepal by Indian news channels. Netizens said that the news coverage portrayed the Nepalese leadership in a bad light.

Nepal’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said in a press interaction, “Nepal may seek political and legal remedies and also mobilise diplomatic channels against reports of Indian media attacking Nepal’s sovereignty and dignity.”

It’s obvious that shrill reporting and commentaries by Indian TV channels have upset Nepali public opinion. Nepal is a small Hindu Kingdom and despite being overwhelming Hindu majority maintains a historic identity of its own.

Nepal bans Indian news after channels indulge in character assassination

Indian news channels received backlash after certain news channels indulged in character assassination of Nepalese leaders including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli as well as the Chinese envoy to Nepal, Ambassador Hou Yanqi.

The Nepal government has not issued an official order in this regard. Tensions have escalated between India and Nepal after the Nepalese Parliament passed an amendment to include three disputed areas as part of their new map.

Read more: India-Nepal dispute heightened by new Nepal maps

New Delhi reacted sharply to the inclusion of the disputed areas, following with dialogues with Kathmandu. Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli also accused India of trying to destabilise his government and oust him. He also alleged that some of his Nepalese leaders are also involved in attempts to remove him from his position. Some Nepalese leaders had demanded PM Oli’s resignation amid tensions with India.

Origins of the India-Nepal dispute

Although India and Nepal have resolved almost all of their territorial disputes through diplomatic dialogue, two major disputes still stand – over small stretches of land.

These are Kalapani in Nepal’s northwest and Susta to its south near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The latest issue is related to the Kalapani region. The territory is strategically important to India as this is where India, China (Tibet) and Nepal meet and has been under Indian control since the 1962 war with China.

While India claims that the territory falls in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, Nepal has maintained that it is an integral part of its Dharchula District in Sudurpaschim Pradesh.

The border in Kalapani is demarcated by the Kali river or Mahakali river. Nepal considers the river as its western border with India and claims that the land falling to its East is its territory as per the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli between Nepal and British East India Company.

However, both India and Nepal disagree over the origin of the river and, hence, the dispute arises.

China encouraged Nepal: Indians fear

Though the dispute is historical and well defined, but coming at this time when India and China have a stand off in Ladakh, many Indians fear that Nepal has been encouraged by China.

 

Nepal maintains that Lipu Gad, one of the tributaries of the Kali river that merges into the main river at Kalapani is, in fact, Kali river up to its source to the east of the Lipu Lekh Pass, wrote scholar Alok Kumar Gupta for the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.

India, however, considers Kalapani, where all the tributaries including Lipu Gad merge, to be the point of origin of the Mahakali river.

Read more: As India Objects to Nepal’s Revised Map, Here’s a Look at What the Territorial Dispute is All About

Nepal and India: both rely upon British Maps

During the dialogue to resolve the dispute, India has held that map sketched in 1879 and 1928, which shows the Kalapani region as India’s territory by British India should form the basis for the origin of the river as well as the demarcation of the border.

On the other hand, Nepal has pressed for the maps sketched 1850 and 1856 by the British-Indian government for the same purpose.

Nepal claims the Kalapani region, which adjoins Lipu Lekh, even though Indian troops have been deployed there since India and China fought a border war in 1962.

India and Nepal had both shown Kalapani and Lipu Lekh in their political maps, but Nepal had not previously shown Limpiyadhura.

“It was an issue of contention when Nepal first drew its map in the 1970s, but it was decided that Limpiyadhura area would be drawn after a discussion with India,” border expert Buddhi Narayan Shrestha said.

Nepal condemned India’s new road as a “unilateral act” while India maintained that it lies “completely within the territory of India”.

Nepal has since deployed security forces close to Kalapani.

GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources

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