On February 7, a memorandum was handed over by the Rastriya Ekata Abhiyan to the United Nations, informing them about the land encroachment in Humla, Nepal, by China. The Nepali civil society group has urged the international community to intervene in the issue pertaining to land grabbing by China in neighbouring countries.
According to a report in Khabarhub, Binay Yadav, chairperson Rastriya Ekata Abhiyan, approached the UN office in Kathmandu and handed over the memorandum to Richard Howard, Resident Coordinator, United Nations, via Rajendra Man Banepali, Information Officer at UN office.
The Rashtiya Ekata Abhiyan has been launching campaigns against the Chinese encroachments. In the memorandum submitted to the UN, the group has called for China to withdraw the encroached land. It has urged the Nepali and Chinese governments to initiate border inspection under the supervision of the international community and urged all stakeholders to keep GPS records of all border posts.
Reports suggest China has encroached on land not only in Humla but also in Gorkha, Darchula, Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk. The group has submitted copies of the memorandum to the US Embassy European Union Representative. Russian Embassy, Indian Embassy and Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.
A panel was formed to study the Nepal-China border dispute
In September 2021, the Nepalese government had formed a panel to study the border dispute between Nepal and China in Humla. Earlier, under Jaya Narayan Acharya, Joint Secretary, Home Ministry, a committee was formed to study the dispute. The study found the area between pillar number 5(2) and the middle of the Kit Khola was marked as the border between the two countries according to the Boundary Protocol of 1963. However, China had erected fences and wired on the Nepali land.
The report is still pending with the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The report added the border encroachment by the Chinese intensified in Humla during the KP Oli government. Notably, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, then-Foreign Minister, had claimed the structures were built on Chinese soil in reference to a 2016 study.
China had also claimed via the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu that the structures were on Chinese land, and there was no dispute between Nepal and China. However, Nepali Congress, the main opposition party, accused the then-govt of covering up the border dispute though there was evidence China had crossed the line.
In October 2020, NC’s Jeevan Bahadur Shahi issued a statement that eight pillars in Humla’s northeastern border were damaged. He confirmed that the Chinese side had replaced Pillar 12 so that a large chunk of Nepal’s land is now under the control of China. According to Shahi, when the Armed Police Force of Nepal went to inspect Pillars 6(1) and 5(1), the Chinese security personnel pelted stones on them. He further added, “Chinese security forces have a heavy presence on the northern border, but our security forces are nowhere to be seen in those remote areas.”
The encroachments were first reported in September 2020. It is noteworthy NC-led government has not published the report that was submitted by the committee formed during its regime.
The leaked report suggests encroachment by China
According to a report in BBC, the report submitted by the panel that was formed in September 2021 got leaked. The report suggested China has been limiting grazing by Nepalese farmers. The report also noted that the surveillance activities by the Chinese security forces led to restrictions on religious activities in Lalungjong that falls on the Nepalese side of the border. This area is in close proximity to Mount Kailash, which is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.
On February 8, The Abhiyan issued a statement and thanked the Nepalese government for its decision to form a government official position on Chinese encroachment of Nepali territory along the northern border.
The statement read, “it is the common responsibility of ordinary citizens to raise voice against ongoing encroachment of Nepali land by the Chinese side. The Abhiyan, recalling that it has always been advocating Nepal’s territorial independence and sovereignty, reminded that it appealed to the international community on Monday to side with Nepal in relation to Chinese encroachment of Nepali territory.”