- Nepal Prime Minister blamed India for spread of COVID-19 in his country
- People coming through illegal channels are spreading the virus, he said
- India and Nepal share a 1,800 km open border
After a "new map" claiming parts of Indian territory, Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli has delivered a new shocker in his offensive against India. Virus from India "looks more lethal" than Chinese and Italian, Mr Oli said in a speech in parliament, blaming India for the spread of coronavirus cases in his country.
"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," Mr Oli said in his speech in Tuesday, his first in parliament since a major health scare.
"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," said the Nepal PM, in comments that have baffled New Delhi and outraged officials in India.
This has escalated the rift between India and Nepal over a new road inaugurated by India.
In the same speech, his first in parliament since a health scare, Mr Oli also said Nepal would "bring back at any cost" the Kalapani-Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh area, which is part of Indian territory.
Recently, the Nepal cabinet had endorsed a new political map incorporating Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani, which are part of Indian territory.
India and Nepal share a 1,800 km (1,118-mile) open border. The Lipulekh Pass is claimed by Nepal based on the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli it entered with the British colonial rulers to define its western border with India.
Kathmandu also claims the highly strategic areas of Limpiyadhura and Kalapani, although Indian troops have been deployed there since New Delhi fought a war with China in 1962.
After a new road was inaugurated on May 8 by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh connecting the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand with Kailash Mansarovar route in China, Nepal has protested against it and is also considering putting up a security post in the area.
India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said the road going through Uttarakhand''s Pithoragarh district "lies completely within the territory of India".
It had said that the road follows the pre-existing route used by the 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," the foreign ministry said.