23 border pillars swept away by Saptakoshi yet to be restored
November 23, 2019 07:51 AM NPT
By: Amar Khadka
Armed Police Force in coordination with the Indian SSB removing huts from the no-man’s land in Sunsari in these recent pictures. Photos: Amar Khadka/Republica
No-man’s land being encroached upon by locals of both sides in Sunsari
ITAHARI, Nov 23: A total of 23 border pillars in Kusaha of south-eastern Nepal were swept away by the massive flood in Saptakoshi river in Sunsari district over a decade ago. Among them, four were the main pillars while the rest were subsidiary ones. Those pillars have not been restored yet.
In absence of those pillars, the no-man’s land along the border in Sunsari has largely been occupied by people. There are dozens of small to big settlements around the area. Of late, the security forces have been deployed to clear the no-man’s land.
Armed Police Force has stated that 11 huts have been removed and the process is underway.
The paramilitary force has stated that the lack of pillars has made it difficult for them to figure out the exact border point. There is no sign of those old pillars, they said.
Sunsari shares 65 kilometers of border with India. Even though the locals had long been demanding reinstalling of the pillars, the government did not initiate it.
Since it is a bilateral issue, authorities of the two countries needed to settle it mutually, but the lack of meetings for the same left the matter unsettled. According to the locals of Sunsari, the officials did not show urgency even in such a grave matter.
“May be, the government will address it now in the wake of the Kalapani issue that has gripped the nation,” said a local businessman of Sunsari. “India’s policy is not good. They have multiple problems of their own, and yet they take interest in encroaching others’ land. If we don’t install pillars and guard those carefully, they just occupy your land,” he added, requesting anonymity.
Citing the examples of many other border areas ‘where pillars have been shifted toward Nepal overnight’, the locals of Sunsari have urged the government to install strong border pillars without any delay and keep security check points there.
There are a total of 290 existing border pillars in Sunsari. Among them, 31 are main pillars, 142 are subsidiary and others are smaller ones.
According to the security forces, 38 different places at the no-man’s land have been occupied by people.
According to APF, the paramilitary force has started patrolling around the no-man’s land and the houses have been removed step by step. But there are not just houses erected, banana and vegetable farming is taking place as well. The APF stated that people of both the sides have used the land for farming purpose. Remarkably, the encroachment continued even though SSB (Seema Suraksha Bal of India) has many posts alongside the border.
According to Sub-Inspector Shyam Babu Rai, the commander of the APF in Sahebgunj area, the Indian security forces have been coordinating with them in the task of clearing the settlements. “Our joint team has been removing the houses and settlements. Similarly, vegetables and fruit farms have been cleared too,” he said.
The move has come in the aftermath of the border controversy triggered by the recently published map of India where the country shows Kalapani within its territory.
The government has taken the matter seriously as PM KP Oli out rightly made bold statement on the issue. He told India to remove the troops from Kalapani as Nepal is not ready to let anyone encroach on even an inch of Nepal’s land. He stressed that the matter should be resolved diplomatically.
Following this, security forces have been deployed in all sensitive border lines. On Friday, APF in Sunsari gave an ultimatum to the encroachers to remove their settlements within 15 days from the no-man’s land.