An Indian border security personnel near the Sandakpur hill in Ilam district pictured last week. Visitors to the hilltop, which is Nepali tourist site, complained that Indian border security personnel have been harrassing them of late and also barring them from taking pictures from the hilltop. Photo: Republica
ILAM, Nov 18: The Indian border security personnel have stopped tourists from visiting a viewpoint, which is at an altitude of 3,636 meters in Sandukpur in Ilam district.
The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) of India has put a notice board on the way to the viewpoint, stopping tourists from visiting the famous site. The viewpoint belongs to Nepal. The SSB has also barred tourists from taking pictures of the site. Mountains of three different countries can be seen from the viewpoint.
In the past, SSB hadn’t prevented tourists from visiting the viewpoint. Tourists say the Indian security personnel had asked them to delete the photos taken from the viewpoint.
From the viewpoint, Mount Everest, and other mountains of India and Bhutan can be viewed. Following the move of the Indian officials, tourists feel unsafe to visit the site. Meanwhile, some tourists have been visiting the viewpoint in Sandukpur, ignoring the orders of the Indian officials.
The Indian officials have formed a base camp 150-meters below the viewpoint to prevent the tourists from visiting the famous tourist attraction. “When I was taking pictures from the viewpoint, an Indian official asked me to return, and not to take pictures,” said Thakur Narayan Shrestha, spokesperson for Ilam Municipality, adding that Indian officials are threatening the tourists visiting the viewpoint.
Meanwhile, the plan of Sandakpur Rural Municipality to construct a view tower in Sandakpur at a cost of Rs 10 million was also stopped by the Indian side. The Indian side had claimed that the region is in the Dasgaja area.
“Due to the obstruction by the Indians, the rural municipality couldn’t construct a viewtower in Sandakpur,” said Udaya Rai, chairman of Sandakpur Rural Municipality, adding that the Indian side has stopped infrastructure development in several areas which belong to Nepal.
“The Indian side also stopped the construction of a community building in Ahalatar. The project was estimated to cost around Rs 40 million, but after the Indian side obstructed the construction, the building was built elsewhere,” Rai said, adding that the Indian side has been obstructing the construction of infrastructures like roads, buildings, among others on the land that belongs to Nepal.
A few months back, the Indian officials had tried to obstruct the construction of the Gauribas-Kalpokhari trekking route in Sandakpur Rural Municipality-5. According to Umesh Gurung, president of the Trekking Route Construction Committee, the Indian SSB took them under control and warned against building the trekking route in the region.
“We were building the route in the region that belongs to Nepal, but the Indian side obstructed the construction claiming that the region is in Dasgajha (no man’s land) area,” he said, adding that the Indian securities had pointed a gun at him. But, after the locals protested against the move of the Indian side, the trekking route was constructed along the Gauribas-Kalpokhari route.
Locals say that the number of Indian security personnel at the border has increased in recent times. Meanwhile, the Indian side removed the notice board when Khinu Langwa Limbu, a provincial assembly member of Province 1, visited Sandakpur a few days back. The SSB officials again placed the notice board after Limbu returned from Sandakpur.