May 20, 2020 / 6:04 PM / 16 days ago

New Nepal map hardens position over land disputed with India

FILE PHOTO: Activists affiliated with 'Human Rights and Peace Society Nepal' holding placards protest against the alleged encroachment of Nepal's border by India in the far west of Nepal, near the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal May 12, 2020. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal on Wednesday 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 rejected the move.

Nepal’s liberal communist Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has been under intense pressure from student groups and members of parliament to issue the new map since India opened an 80 km (50 mile) long road this month linking the 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 East India Company which sets the Kali 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.

The new map that shows a sliver of land – including areas like 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.

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,” Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson 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 area since its border war with China in 1962.

Nepali officials said the new map will be printed in school and college text books and official documents and will be used for all administrative purposes.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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