Nepal has published a new political map that includes a small stretch of disputed land, toughening its stance on a decades-long row over the territory with India, which has rejected the move.
The new map that shows a sliver of land – including Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani – jutting out from the northwestern tip of Nepal was made public on Wednesday by Land Management Minister Padma Aryal, who said the occasion was “historically pleasant” for Nepal and its people.
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Nepal’s communist Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been under intense pressure from student groups and members of parliament to issue the new map since India inaugurated a controversial road this month.
On March 8, India opened an 80km (50-mile) road linking its northern state of Uttarakhand with Lipulekh on the border with Tibet across the controversial piece of land.
Nepal claims the territory under an 1816 treaty with the British East India Company, which sets the Kali river as its western boundary with India and says the land lying east of the river was its territory.
Nepalese officials said the exact size of the territory was being calculated.
A cabinet meeting on Monday decided to publish a new map that includes Lipulekh and zones in Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, Nepal’s Law Minister Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe told AFP news agency.
The zones form a region of more than 300sq km (115sq miles) considered important because it is where the Nepalese and Indian borders touch China.
“Nepal will initiate dialogues with India simultaneously to resolve the boundary issue through diplomatic channels,” she said.
But India, which says the land is its territory, rejected Nepal’s “unilateral act”, saying it was not based on historical facts and evidence.
“It is contrary to the bilateral understanding to resolve the outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.
“Such artificial enlargement of territorial claims will not be accepted by India,” he said.
India has stationed a security post in the Kalapani area since its border war with China in 1962.
India and Nepal had both shown Kalapani and Lipulekh in their political maps, but Nepal had not previously shown Limpiyadhura.
“It was an issue of contention when Nepal first drew its map in the 1970s, but it was decided that [the] Limpiyadhura area would be drawn after a discussion with India,” border expert Buddhi Narayan Shrestha said.
Nepali officials said the new map will be printed in school and college textbooks and official documents and will be used for all administrative purposes.