In a new low in ties between neighbours, Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli has blamed India for the spread of coronavirus in his country, saying the virus was “more acute” in people who came from India compared to those who entered Nepal from Italy and China.
Addressing his Parliament, Oli said: “Those who are coming from India through illegal channels are spreading the virus in the country and some local representatives and party leaders are responsible for bringing in people from India without proper testing.”
He added, "It has become very difficult to contain Covid-19 due to the flow of people from outside. Indian virus looks more lethal than Chinese and Italian now. More are getting infected.”
In the same speech, Oli also said Nepal would "bring back at any cost" the Kalapani-Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh area, which is part of Indian territory.
The Nepal cabinet on Monday approved a fresh political map which included Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani as part of its territory, perhaps for the first time in several years that India's historically connected neighbour and friend has taken such a severe confrontational stand even as the issue has remained simmering for a while.
The move came 10 days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a link road on the Kailash Mansarovar route in Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, leading to Lipulekh.
Nepal’s foreign ministry had issued a press release objecting to the link road, claiming it passes through Nepali territory. India had rejected the claim, saying it “lies completely within the territory of India”.
India has said the road follows the pre-existing route used by pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. “Under the present project, the same road has been made pliable for the ease and convenience of pilgrims, locals and traders,” an official said.
But in a rare move a day later, Nepal’s foreign minister summoned Indian ambassador Vinay Kwatra and issued a diplomatic note on the road inaugurated.
Kwatra reiterated what the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson had said in a statement issued on May 9. He said, “India is committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue and in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations with Nepal.”