secretary-level meeting

The never-ending border disputes still linger

Published On: July 26, 2018 03:00 AM NPT By: Bhim Chapagain

Locals accuse Indian SSB of taking away their cattle

ILAM, July 26: While border disputes along the no-man's-land in eastern Nepal have continued for years, the government authorities are yet to make any concrete effort to resolve the issue with the southern neighbor, India.

Secretary-level bilateral meetings and discussions have been held multiple times in Jhapa, Ilam, Darjeeling, Siliguri among other places. However, all these discussions so far have failed to solve the issue.

Decisions taken in such meetings do not translate into action, giving continuation to border-related disputes including encroachment and inter-border security issues.

This time too, another secretary-level meeting has been scheduled for September. However, based on the past records, many people are skeptical that it would yield any fruitful result.

Nepali settlements nearby the border areas have been facing 'tyranny' from Indian Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) from time to time. According to the locals, there have been many instances when groups of SSB personnel cross to the Nepali side of the border with weapons and terrorize them. Locals say SSB even take away their domesticated cattle. But authorities from the Nepali side have always remained mute spectators.

Likewise, the Indian side has been encroaching the no-man's-land time and again. Locals claim that India has been constructing concrete structures inside the no-man's-land and removing the border pillars as well. However, both the countries have been reluctant to ensure proper demarcation of the border. 

According to the locals, there have been many instances when groups of SSB personnel cross to the Nepali side of the border with weapons and terrorize them.

“Due to open border, Indian security personnel enter our settlements and do whatever they like without any restriction. And we cannot do anything about it even when they harass us,” said Tashi Sherpa, a local of Mane Bhanjyang that connects Nepal's Ilam with India's Darjeeling in West Bengal.

According to him, SSB personnel also enter Nepal's forest for illegal hunting. “We have made numerous complaints to local security bodies. But the situation has not changed.”

When asked about the border disputes, district security bodies of Nepal always give the same reply – “We have informed the higher authorities regarding the issue and also held security meetings.”

Last year, studies carried out by a team from the Department of Survey had concluded that India had encroached upon the 'Das Gaja' areas in various places and erected concrete structure there. For instance, it was found that the Indian side constructed customs office, police post and 4-5 houses inside the no-man's-land near Pashupatinagar. Many pillars were also found missing.

Chief District Officer Shrawan Kumar Timilsina said the issues of border-related disputes would again be brought up at the home secretary-level meeting.

“We have also decided to add more police units in our side of the border,” he informed. However, locals affected by the problem are not convinced that any of the recommendations would be implemented.

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