Nepal-India Border Regulation

Nepal-India Border

Regulation can prove peace and security for Nepalese nationals 

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha 

Nepal has good relationship with its neighbours. India is bordered as Nepal‘s southern neighbour with convenient topography. We have social and religious ties with each other since long. With the advent of democracy, Indo-Nepal economic co-operation has been expanded considerably. If we look back the history of Nepal-India border, there was a closed border system in ancient period. No one could enter into Nepal without special permission from Rana prime minister. Practice of controlled border system was started slowly after the Sugauli treaty of 1816. However, it can be said that as soon as Nepal restored Naya Muluk ( Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur ) from British India on November 1, 1860; open border system unknowingly came into practice between two countries. It was the border slackness to make Nepali youth’s easy travel to India to get recruited in the Gorkha regiment of the British army.             The border was more open after India‘s independence in 1947 from the British rule. Furthermore, it was wide open after Nepal‘s democratic movement in 1950, to come and go Indian politicians and bureaucrats and technicians without any restriction. Ultimately, Nepal-India border was empty open after the construction of Tribhuvan highway in 1956, linking Kathmandu to Raxaul, Indian border town. As a result, anyone could cross the border and shuttle back and forth many times a day without any interrogation. However, there was a kind of closed border system during the economic blockade by
India from March 23, 1989 to July 1, 1990. Existing 22 border crossing points and 15 transit points between two countries had been closed unilaterally. Recently, India has shown a symptom to regulate or control the border, deploying special services bureau (SSB). It seems as a discretionary management of border. They have deployed more than ten thousand SSB para-military forces along Indo-Nepal border, after the incidents of September 11 in America and December 13, 2001 in New Delhi and Maoist insurgency in Nepal. Interestingly, India and Nepal have jointly agreed and implemented controlled border system for the air-passengers, after the Indian airplane hijacked from Kathmandu on December 24, 1999It is notable that passport / rahadani were necessary even to go from one part of Nepal to another via Indian territory till four decades ago. At that time, rahadani  would be issued from Rahadani Goswara of Munsikhana and district Badahakim. But rahadani system unknowingly disappeared after the construction of Tribhuvan highway. We can recollect the fact from a sample of passport / permit- 1862 and Passport Regulations- 1952, published in Nepal Gazette- April 22, 1952 that even the Nepalis residing for long or permanently settled down in any foreign country would require prior permit or passport to enter into Nepal. Such permission could be possessed from the embassies or consulates of Nepal in the respective country or from the Alainchikothi in Patna- India, as mentioned in the para four of the regulations. On the other hand, if we make a study on the existing Immigration Act and Regulations, all foreigners should obtain visa / permit to enter Nepal. Article 2(B) of the regulations defines “foreigner means any person, not being the citizen of Nepal at present, as it must be understood.” It indicates to follow the regulated border system also for the Indian nationals. Irrespective of the historical basis of the open border between India and Nepal, Media Services International had conducted an opinion survey in 15 districts of hills and Tarai to find out whether the Nepali people wanted open or regulated border. The report made public on July 3, 2000 by Media Services revealed that among the respondents, 85.5% had expressed the opinion to in favour of regulating the open border between India and Nepal, while 42.9% had expressed their views in support of implementing the passport system and 7% in favour of as it is. The public opinion survey has mentioned that 44.4% people have considered both Nepal and India responsible for the lack of supervision and control of the border, while 40.7% people have taken it to be the weakness of Nepal and 3.8% have thought it the weakness of India. And 11.1% do not have firm idea. Similarly, Kantipur Daily had also conducted an Internet Opinion Survey. According to the results published on February 21, 2000 in response to the question, “Is it necessary to enact any rules that would govern the movement of the citizens of Nepal and India across the Nepal-India border?” 89.5% (1,053 people) respondents voted in favour of the necessity of making rules whereas 10.5% (111 people) viewed, there was no necessity of making any such rules. From the survey too, it has become clear that the Nepalis have wished for the regulated and controlled border system.With all these perspective and fact and figure and current situation in both nations, should open border system continue or does it need to manage an alternative system ?If we have to establish peace and security for the prosperity of Nepalese nationals, there should have some alternative measures in Indo-Nepal border management system. In fact, existing system has somehow created muddle for the people of both nations. Keeping the border open has made it easy for unwanted elements and rebels to run their activities. Once they commit illegal acts such as crime, murder, theft, robbery, abduction in one frontier, they instantly cross the porous border and enter into the other side of the frontier and hide or take safe shelter.It makes uproar on both the frontiers.We have to visualise the problems of both nations in a national perspective. It should concentrate and focus on the issues and problems, not from the Madheshis and Pahadiyas, Limbuwans and Khumbuwans or some other regional and ethnical angle, but from the holistic Nepalese national perspective. In the broader aspect of the issue, government of Nepal and India must come to conclusion jointly to make the border restricted for the terrorists, controlled for smugglers, obstructed for the abductors, checked for the criminals, stopped for narcotic holders; but regulated for the genuine passengers and common people of India and Nepal and managed for exp ort and import of merchandise legally. Most importantly, arrangement of special permission / identity card should certainly be made for the inhabitants living within 5 kilometers of either side of the border.

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