Kalapani and Lipulekh in Uttarakhand now appear on a new map of Nepal as its territory but official land records in Pithoragarh tell a different story.
Nepal's lower house of parliament on Saturday approved the new political map, triggering a sharp reaction from India over areas which it maintains are its territory.
Local land records also say the land at Kalapani and Lipulekh belongs to the residents of two villages on the Indian side of the border, an official recently said.
"All the land in Lipulekh, Kalapani and Nabhidhang on the Indo-Nepal border traditionally belongs to the residents of Garbiyang and Gunji villages of Dharchula sub-division of Pithoragarh district,” Dharchula sub-divisional magistrate A K Shukla said, citing land records.
“While over 190 acres of land in Kalapani and Nabhidhang are registered in the names of villagers of Garbiyang , the land at Lipulekh pass is mentioned in the land records as common land of Gunji villagers,” Shukla said.
The Kailash-Mansarovar yatra is conducted every year through the Lipulekh pass on Indo-China border.
Garbiyang villagers say their ancestors cultivated the land in Kalapani before the Indo-China War in 1962.
Border trade between India and China through Lipulekh pass and the cultivation at Kalapani stopped after the war, they say.
“We used to grow local cereals palthi and phaphar on our land in Kalapani and Nabhidhang before 1962,” said Krishna Garbiyal, a resident of Garbiyang village.
He is also the president of Rang Kalyan Sanstha, a tribal cultural organisation based in Dharchula sub-division.
According to Garbiyal, the land up to Mount Api across Kalapani also belonged to Garbiyang villagers but they abandoned it after the Sugauli treaty between Nepal and British East India Company in 1816.
River Kali was then recognised as the border line between Nepal and India.
“Our ancestors have abandoned their land inside Nepal and retained Kalapani land as the then governments of both countries recognised Kalapani as the source of Kali river,” Garbiyal said.
Garbiyang villagers say the water at the source of Kali river in Kalapani is considered sacred by them and they immerse the ashes of their dead in the river.
Cutting across party lines, Nepal's House of Representatives voted Saturday for the new map which lays claim over the strategically important areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura along the border with India.
In a sharp reaction, India called it an untenable claim.
"This artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues," a spokesperson said.