Sidra Insar Chaudhary
It is challenging to live with an aggressive and hostile neighbor like India that wants to establish hegemony in the region by any means possible. Try to name one single country with whom India has great ties and you will realize that there are none. The recent example of this is the conflict of India with both China and Nepal over the actual line of control (LAC). The country has created an obnoxious situation with both the neighboring countries at a time when the world is fighting a novel and uncertain pandemic.
Many may not know that India has a historical and steady record of bad behavior, creating border disputes with all of its neighbors. India incorporated Goa, Hyderabad Deccan, Sikkim, and Junagarh by force. It illegally holds part of Jammu and Kashmir, and Nagaland. It has fought several wars with Pakistan and China over land disputes, and it has militarily meddled in Sri Lanka and Maldives. India has also posted permanent forces in Bhutan and has water disputes with Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. However, in the time of Corona, India has escalated its designs to exert influence by taking advantage of the fact that its neighbors are busy fighting the corona pandemic.
Instead of fighting a pandemic and rampant poverty at home, India is instead obstinately playing the role of a destabilizer in its neighboring countries. India’s ruling BJP party has a similar ideology to that of the Nazi party and these destabilizing actions are also very similar to what Germany use to do to its neighbors to exert strength and power. But as with the Nazis, BJP has so far only humiliation to show for as result of its policy of conflict.
Last month Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a link road that will connect Indian state of Uttarkhand to the Lipu Lekh pass close to China-India border. The very next day the government of Nepal raised strong objections to the Indian decision of building a road that passes through its territory. Furthermore, Nepal asked India to cease its activities inside its territory.
Despite the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 in Nepal, people protested in large numbers against India’s decision in front of its embassy in Kathmandu. According to the latest report from AFP news agency, law enforcement authorities arrested 38 protesters. Many people also took to social media sites to voice their criticism of India’s action. #backoffindia remains a popular trend on Twitter where thousands of Nepalis are speaking up against the Indian government’s expansionist action.
Kalapani territory to the southern side of the Lipu Lekh pass is a disputed area between India and Nepal. The dispute goes back to a treaty signed between Britain and Nepal in 1816 which declared the Makhali river passing through Kalapani as the determinant of the boundary between the two countries. The river has various small branches that gather to a point at Kalapani. Nepal says the river starts where these smaller branches start – that is at Lipu Lekh pass, while India says river starts from Kalapani where small tributaries meet.
The tensions flared between the two countries last year as well at the same time when India annexed the statehood status of Jammu and Kashmir and released a new map. The new map not only altered the Jammu and Kashmir but also showed Kalapani inside its state of Uttarkhand.
Since the start of the pandemic, Nepal is not the only neighbor that India has angered. India and Chinese soldiers have had several physical clashes on the shared border. Both countries share a 3488 Km long-disputed land border. Recently Chinese troops crossed Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Indian occupied Ladakh when India tried to move its posts to regions even British dared not to touch. In this moment of shame, Indian higher authorities are downplaying the incident as if nothing has happened and it seems like they are covering up the incompetence of the Indian Army that has boasted about attacking Pakistan in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
On the other hand, Indian media is portraying that some of the Indian troops were “briefly” detained by China despite videos of pleading Indian soldiers making rounds on the interwebs. Little did they know that Abhinandan was “briefly” detained by Pakistan. The habit of Indian media of making a hero of fallen soldiers – POW – is not new but it has been a trend now. These events demonstrate that despite trying hard to keep the hegemony in the region the country has been slapped in the face by China. The Modi-Amit-Doval (Mad) design of Indian intelligence and Army apparatus has failed badly.
The developments of the past month have dealt a serious blow to Indian hegemonic designs. India has spent five-years in Nepal to try to get them strategically aligned against China. Indian efforts have now effectively failed as it has lost Nepalese hearts and minds. Nepal is now asking to renegotiate the 1950’s unjust Friendship treaty that was signed by undemocratic rulers. Also, China by acting aggressively has caused tremors in the power corridors of Delhi. Moreover, India is also facing alienation and embarrassment in Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to have any dialogue with it. In short, Modi has single-handedly designed a remarkably detrimental regional geopolitical nightmare for his country.