The animosity between Nepal and India, which had dominated news headlines a few months ago appears to be thawing somewhat. As per reports, Manoj Mukund Naravane the Chief of the Army Staff is slated to meet the Nepal Prime Minister in the neighbouring country on November 4. This will be the first high-level visit from India to Kathmandu since the ties between the two neighbours came under strain earlier this year.
Continuing an age old tradition, he will be conferred with the honorary rank of 'General of the Nepal Army' by Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari at an event in Kathmandu. India also confers the honorary rank of 'General of Indian Army' to the Nepal Army Chief.
While the controversy that had begun with a border conflict over the significant areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura is yet to blow over, the move appears to indicate a thaw. A few months ago, in May, the Himalayan nation had come up with a new political map claiming several areas in Uttarakhand as part of its territory. This redrawing was made official, being incorporated through a Constitutional amendment soon after.
The situation had worsened as, amid the pandemic and consequent lockdown, and one person from Bihar had been killed and two others injured after a confrontation with the Nepal police at the border area took a violent turn. Soon after that officials had said that Nepal had halted construction work along the Bihar border, claiming that it was encroaching on the
Nepal has stopped the construction of a branch of an Indian national highway along the international border in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district claiming it had encroached on no-man’s land, further straining the ties between the countries.
Over the last few months, there had also been several comments made by Prime Minister Oli had had raised eyebrows and sparked outrage in India. At the same time, the PM too had been incensed, after cartoons featuring him surfaced in the Indian media. Soon after this, in July, all Indian news channels except Doordharshan had been banned in Nepal.
While only time will tell whether the meeting proves successful in mending the ties between the two countries, a Hindustan Times report says that all indications suggest Naravane will receive red carpet worthy treatment from Kathmandu. Reportedly, this ties in with the Oli-led administration's desire to revive the Pancheshwar multi-purpose project on the river Mahakali as well as other hydro-electric projects with its neighbour.
It is however unclear whether a resolution for the ripples caused by redrawing the map will be possible. An article by the Kathmandu Post for example, opines that while this is likely to be a talking point, it is unlikely that this visit will have much to do with the boundary dispute.