By Buddhi Narayan Shrestha
A sovereign and independent state must have its own definite territory. There must have been permanent population within the territory. It bears an independent government to rule, make and enforce laws. The government exercises power to deal and maintain relationship with other countries of the world. Most fundamental characteristic of a sovereign nation is accounted for its defined boundary that has been demarcated and maintained time to time. With the realization of the sensitivity of the boundary of a sovereign nation, Lord Curzon of Kedleston (Viceroy of India 1898-1905 and British Foreign Secretary 1919-24) has said, “Frontiers are indeed the razor’s edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war or peace, of life or death to nations.”
With a view to educate and provide knowledge with practical experience on the razor’s edge frontier, International Boundaries Research Unit of Durham University, United Kingdom, had conducted an international training workshop on the theme ‘Boundary Demarcation and Maintenance’ some time ago. Thirty-four delegates had participated the workshop covering from Canada through United States of America to Vietnam and Indonesia. Most of the participants belonged to their Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Surveying organizations. Ambassador of Guatemala to UK and Head of Survey/Cartographic Unit of the United Nations had also participated the workshop. This scribe was one of the participants from Nepal.
During the training period, much emphasis was given to clearly defined and well managed boundaries that remain for national security, good international relations, efficient use of resources, effective local administration and borderland prosperity. In the same way, potential problems arising from unclear and inadequate demarcation of some of the countries were discussed thoroughly among participating nations. It was realized that inadequate demarcation would raise the issue of encroachment of settlements, disputes about land ownership and maintenance of “no-man’s land” areas. It may lead uncertainty on law enforcement on the frontier of both the nations as well.
It was emphasized that it requires maintenance of border pillars to mark the boundary visible with an integrated development of borderlands. Both the countries of the borderline must not forget the co-existence of the borderlands, since the border is common to both the nations and the demarcation pillars are the property of the people of both the countries.
During the discussion series on the demarcation issues of some of the countries of the world, this scribe highlighted on the Kalapani and Susta border areas of Nepal that have been encroached by India since the last five decades. It is a fact that River Mahakali is the western border of Nepal. But the origin of the river has not yet been settled with India. There is a kind of controversy on the source of the river — whether it is originated from Limpiyadhura or Lipulek or an artificial pond near to a small temple of Kali. Ray Milesfsky, tutor and participant from the United States Department of States International Boundaries and Sovereignty Issues mentioned that he knows very well about the Kalapani border issue between Nepal and India. Indian para-military force has occupied a chunk of land on the tri-junction area of Nepal, India and China. He suggested that the origin of the river should be identified as per ‘watershed principle’ as practiced by most of the countries. Another participant David Linthicum, office of the geographer and global issues of US Department of States asked this scribe to send him an accurate digital map of Nepal to update the archive.
Augistin Muhizi, Head of survey/Cartographic Unit of the United Nations suggested to resolve the border problems of the various countries of the globe including Nepal and India in a friendly manner with a positive attitude. In connection with the discussion Martin Pratt, tutor and Director of the International Boundaries Research Unit pointed out that border issues between two neighbours could be resolved inviting third country as a mediator. It is to be noted that Sugauli Treaty of 1816 was made between the then British India and Nepal but not with the present India. So the Government of Britain may be the best mediation between these countries.
With this version we may know that the encroachment of Kalapani-Limpiyadhura has already been internationalized. And Susta issue is going to be marching forward to international forum. In fact, if we browse the word ‘Kalapani’ in internet, there are so many digital files that denote ‘Kalapani of Nepalese territory has been encroached by India…there is a dispute in Kalapani area.’ However, boundary demarcation issues between Nepal and India should be resolved by mutual understanding, good neighbourliness, friendly manner and respecting each other with the help of historical maps and related documents.
Most important element is the dedication and willingness to resolve the issues since border demarcation business is a matter of equal participation from both the nations. Nothing can be happened if only one nation is willing, eager and hurried. It needs the equal spirit from both the sides. Border demarcation problems must be resolved in such a manner that this is resolved for ever, and no question will be raised in future. If it is not resolved amicably the trouble facing country must be ready to knock the international organizations for the integrity of the sovereign and independent nation.