Questions have been raised after the government formed a committee to study the border with China from Limi, Lapcha to Hilsa of Humla.
The Sher Bahadur Deuba government on Wednesday formed a committee led by a joint secretary at the Home Ministry and including representatives from the Department of Survey, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and border experts less than a year after the then KP Sharma Oli government issued a statement assuring that there is no border dispute with China has raised questions about the objective of the latest committee.
Dinesh Bhattarai, who has previously worked as foreign affairs advisor to the prime minister (PM) when Deuba and Sushil Koirala were at the helm, said the government may have formed the committee after receiving solid information.
"Border is sensitive. It could also have been done by forming a body with China. The government may also have formed the committee as it lacked information. Or the government may have a lot of information and may have formed the committee as it needed to be formed," Bhattarai stated.
He added that it would be appropriate to work by taking the other side into confidence in matters related to border. "The government may have done so as it has information and it is necessary. We should have said we are doing this as they have to be told they have encroached the border. I believe the government received information that required doing so."
Rajan Bhattarai, who was foreign affairs advisor to Oli and Madhav Kumar Nepal when they were PM, expressed surprise at the sudden announcement of committee. "Why is the government trying to bring a new report defying reports given on separate occasions by its own bodies? We ourselves are surprised. This should not have been done in diplomatic affairs. Why immaturity of this level has been displayed in matters related to a neighboring country?" he asked.
He pointed how a study team was formed on the issue when Sushil Koirala was PM. "Sushil Koirala was no longer PM when that team submitted the report. That report clearly stated that the structures that have been questioned now have been built one kilometer beyond the border and Nepal's land has not been encroached."
He reminded how the report came last year saying the land has not been encroached on the basis of old report in coordination with the Chinese side and field study and opined that the government should not act on border issues on the basis of what Nepali Congress (NC) or communists or some individuals say.
He suspected that the Deuba government may also have formed the committee now to divert attention from other issues.
Nepali Congress (NC) Vice-president Bimalendra Nidhi had met Deuba after the ruling coalition issued the common minimum program and taken exception to exclusion of border disputes with China.
Nidhi had pointed how a team led by NC parliamentary party leader in Karnali Jeevan Bahadur Shahi had found that China has encroached Nepali land in Humla and slammed Deuba for not including that in the common minimum program while mentioning the border disputes with India.
NC lawmakers Devendra Raj Kandel, Satya Narayan Sharma Khanal and Sanjay Kumar Gautam last year had even registered a resolution motion in the federal parliament claiming that China has encroached Nepali land in Gorkha, Solukhumbu, Darchula and Humla districts.
The party later claimed that China has ventured two kilometers inside Nepal in Humla and urged the then KP Sharma Oli government to send protest note to China.
The then main opposition NC had made the claims after a government team led by the then Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla Chiranjivi Giri that had gone for field inspection in September 2020 located the pillar no 11 at the Nepal-China border which was missing for years and reported that the area in Lapcha where the Chinese government has constructed buildings seems to fall in China.
The team led by NC leader Shahi had gone for field inspection after the government team made the report public and claimed that China has encroached land in Humla.
The Chinese Embassy in Nepal had even sent a letter to the party when it spoke about Chinese encroachment last year.