Members of the committee recently formed by the government to study the border dispute in t Shahihe Humla district are currently working on the report.
The on-site video of Khabarhub shows that China has encroached upon Nepal’s land in the Humla district. Last year, lawmaker Rangamati Shahi of Humla had drawn the government’s attention to the problems on the Nepal-China border and the issue of China building a new structure in Nepali land.
Khabarhub’s Tejendra Kafle held a conversation with Shahi on Humla border dispute, encroachment, and a committee formed to submit a report on border encroachment, among other issues:
When did you realize that the border has been encroached upon in your home district Humla?
To be precise, there had been a border dispute since 2021 BS. We didn’t have any idea about the encroachment then. Even the locals did not bother much.
The border demarcation was done with the connivance of the CDO and its staffers. Since then, nobody bothered to dig into the issue.
There is a water body, which has been considered as the borderline. Later, they constructed three structures in Lolungbhajung.
When the locals asked why China built the house on Nepali land, the Chinese side said that the buildings were constructed for the convenience of the Nepali people to keep their cattle. Four years ago, the Chinese had said that the land belonged to Nepal.
However, despite saying this, they constructed 11 houses during the lockdown period last year. The locals of Limi were scared because they were dependent on them.
During that time, a local Dutta Hamal was the then Assistant Chief District Officer there during which they saw some houses being constructed there.
The Chairman of the Namcha village was also part of the team. He had then categorically said that Nepali land had been encroached upon. When the issue came out, I handed over a memorandum to the then Foreign Minister apprising the border encroachment issue by China.
\He requested us to form a team involving some local representatives to study the land encroachment issue. However, the then Foreign Minister said that the land has not been encroached upon without visiting Humla.
The then government invited Chhatra Bahadur Lama, the directly-elected lawmakers from Humla and the Chairman of Namcha in Kathmandu to discuss the issue.
However, no sooner had they held a meeting with the government, they changed their views and dismissed reports of border encroachment.
Immediately, a team of 11 individuals, including Jeevan Bahadur Shahi, central member of Nepali Congress (NC) and leader of the parliamentary party of Karnali Pradesh, made an on-the-spot study of the encroached land for 11 days. During the visit, it was found that Pillar number 12 was newly constructed.
Now that, the question arises: Can anyone demolish and construct a pillar unilaterally? Unfortunately, before our delegation reached the spot, the then government categorically said that Nepal’s land had not been encroached upon.
We, meanwhile, waited for the team’s report. When the team returned, it was found out that Pillar No 12 has been replaced, and Pillar number 6 was displaced and was fenced with barbed wire.
In fact, Gyapudocha in Nepal is the border. However, they had constructed buildings in Lolungjung. After all this evidence that China has encroached on the Nepali land, we started to raise our voices.
The team submitted its field report to the Nepali Congress Central Office, and that the party even issued a statement raising concern over the border encroachment in Humla.
Meanwhile, only a week ago, a ditch has been dug in Chitkhola in Nepal by using a dozer by the Chinese side. The Chinese side later removed it after a team of the Armed Police of Hilsa reached the spot after four-five days and claimed that the land belonged to Nepal.
The Chinese side has left the area and the ditch that was dug for storing water. Therefore, looking at the entire scenario, Nepal’s land has been encroached upon.
We even requested the Prime Minister to form a study team and bring a report on the issue. We told the Prime Minister that we would also form a team to study the issue. And, even if the land does not belong to us, we will not claim the land.
However, if the land belongs to us, we must not give it up. The government’s team has already returned from the area, and we are waiting for their report after their return to Kathmandu.
Is there enough evidence to return our land?
For sure! Why not? Lawmaker Chhatra Bahadur Lama is talking about the map. There is ample evidence that the land is ours. We are now waiting for the report of the study team, which will submit it to the government soon. If our land has been encroached upon, we cannot remain quiet.
The state machinery said that the land does not belong to Nepal. The previous government said that the land has not been encroached upon. The team formed by the incumbent government team is soon presenting its report. The survey was done in 2073 BS also denies encroachment. Even the CDO’s report concurs with the survey report. In such a situation, can the pressure of locals and people’s representatives be enough?
Let’s take it this way. The previous government said that the land has not been encroached upon. As you said, the team formed by the incumbent government team is soon presenting its report.
I even made phone calls when the team was in the border area. In the course of the conversation, the team members had told me that the situation is not favorable for us.
Even the CDO and his team did not say that our land is not encroached upon. However, if our land has been encroached upon, the government has to take responsibility for it.
Do you think that the government team’s report would be accurate?
Why not? We have faith in the study team since it has reached the border area as said by the government. But I am sure that the team will bring out the report without distorting the facts since the NC team has also visited the area and brought the report.
Why is it that the local representatives could not reach the disputed area while the representatives from Kathmandu reached the area?
In fact, we are confident that the study committee will bring an impartial report. And, we never said we would not go to the border area. The problem is that we can only speak when the experts’ team is in Kathmandu.
Since you are accustomed to the border area, wouldn’t it be easier if you had joined the team of experts?
In fact, we need to trust the findings of the report. However, if we do not trust the report, we will have to initiate another step.
As you said, was the survey done in the border area?
In fact, we and even the locals are not entirely aware of the exact date of the survey in 2021 BS. We even are unaware of what the then staff did at that time.
According to our ancestors, it is the pond that is Gyapudocha. The Chinese side was given permission to construct a road some 1.5 km or 2 km away from the Lolungchong site where the structure is now built.
During that time, the Chinese used to fetch rations, including rice and vegetables up to this area. Saying that the land belonged to Nepal, they even assisted us to construct the road. Now that we are not quite sure what the then KP Oli government did during its tenure.
Whatever has happened has happened. Ironically, the Oli-led government refuted reports that China has encroached upon Nepal’s land without sending experts to the border.
What’s barring the representatives of Humla to forge unity on the issue then?
To tell you the truth, we are not united on the issue of border encroachment because of partisan interest, I guess. What we have been saying is that currently, 50-60 percent of the locals in Taklakot are depending on China for their daily necessities, including clothes and food.
The people there say they do not want animosity with them since they were entirely depending on them. The better relations we have with China, the better. But since as a people’s representative, if we do not unite and speak up, who else would?
Since you have enough evidence the voice will be strong if you all are united, right?
It’s not that we are trying to make enmity with China. Our only concern is that injustice has been done and that our land has been encroached upon.
Since I am a proportional lawmaker, I think a directly-elected lawmaker should be even more responsible. It would have been better if he had spoken the truth because of which he may have to suffer the consequences in the future.
You pointed out that some say the relations with China will deteriorate if we kept raising the issue of the border dispute. What do you want to tell them?
One thing is for sure that some people have to live there, depend on them. Elderly people used to go to Kalapahad during December. Now they go to Taklakot, and even earn Rs 25 hundred, Rs 3 thousand, or Rs 2 thousand rupees a day by working as labor. This is a good income.
We are happy that China has supported us. But by saying so, it cannot grab our land. My concern is that both sides need to be honest without any political enmity. Locals are afraid that they would not be allowed to go to Taklakot if they raised the land encroachment issue.
What do the locals say?
Elderlies say they used to pitch a tent for around 6 months and construct a shed for the yaks there. From there they would go to another place, there we would pay taxes.
They used to give them (Chinese) butter as taxes. The place where China has constructed the structure is called Lolungjung. The elderlies say they cannot speak despite knowing the fact that Nepal’s land has been encroached upon.
Moreover, it is difficult to understand the language of the people there. A place called Limi is like another world. We had a phone conversation with the locals there last year but they could only say that the land is ours.
What do you think the government should do to make sure that Nepal’s land is not encroached upon?
We have urged the Prime Minister to resolve the border dispute with China at the earliest. We had also asked the previous government to send an expert team to inspect the border.
We had told the government to let the representatives, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Land, Defense, Home Affairs and the local people’s representatives go to the area and bring out the reality. If the land has been encroached, the government should take steps, and bring back the land through negotiations, and take the initiative accordingly.