Security Concern and Border Management of Nepal
Buddhi N Shrestha
Spoke as a Guest Speaker at
Nepal Army Command and Staff College,
Serial number 18 Command and Staff Course
in Shivapuri, Kathmandu, 19 October 2011
(Only the points have been noted down)
1. What is security ?
- Security is a measure taken to guard against sabotage, crime, attack, or escape.
- It is the protection or the safety of citizens and country’s secrets
- Security refers to all the measures that are taken to protect or to ensure the life and property of the people and the nation.
2. What is border management ?
- To facilitate the movement of legitimate people and goods while crossing the international border.
- It is to maintain secure borders to meet national legal requirements.
3. Relation between security and border management
- These are inter-related in terms of the security of life and property of the people and nation.
4. Location of Nepal
- Nepal is situated between India and China
- Nepal has very good relationship with both countries
- Nepal’s security concern is sensitive to both neighbors
- Nepal has its own identity, being located between two emerging nations:
- America and European countries have shown keen interest on Nepal to obtain information especially of China and India in general
5. Border Management System
System of International Border Management
I. Open border
II. Regulated border
III. Closed border
I. Open border :
– It refers to a system where a traveler of one country can visit
and move around in another country without any restriction :
e.g. Nepal and India
II. Regulated border:
– It is an arrangement under which a traveler / visitor from one country must produce travel documents to immigration officer, such as passport and visa :
e.g. India and Bangladesh
– This system makes sure that people can immigrate and emigrate, but only on regulated
III. Closed border:
– It means a system whereby a ban is enforced on cross-border movement of all types :
No traveler can cross the border and enter the neighboring country, no matter how valid travel document she / he might have possessed.
e.g. North and South Korea.
- India-Pakistan had closed border from 1999 to 2001.
6. History of border management system of Nepal
1. It has regulated border system.
– However, Tibetan refugees attempt to cross the border in a disguised manner, to move to India to see the Dalai Lama and to go to America.
v Chinese police shot Kelsang Namtso, while trying to cross Nangpa La pass on 30 September 2006.
v Nepali police arrested nearly 50 Tibetans during 2010, infiltrated illegally from Lamabagar area of Dolaka district.
2. Visa is not necessary for the inhabitants of 30 km of either side.
– They can visit the territory of the other frontier.
– However, compulsory ID card system is introduced since 1 January 2006 due to security reason.
– China considers crossing a border without a permit, a criminal act, sentence of up to one year.
– Nepal-china has demilitarized zone 20 km on either side of the border line.
1. Closed border system: It was prevalent in ancient period, especially for third country national until 1816 Sugauli Treaty.
2. Controlled border: It was initiated after 1816 for Indian nationals as well.
3. Open border: Started slowly and unknowingly after the restoration of Naya Muluk in 1860.
- to recruit the Gorkha regiment,
- to sell finished goods by India up to Tibet,
- to import raw materials from Nepal.
– However, passport / permit was necessary to cross the border.
4. More open border: After India’s independence in 1947.
5. Wide open border: After the establishment of democracy in Nepal in 1950.
6. Empty open border: After construction of Tribhuvan Highway in 1957, linking Kathmandu to
Raxaul, Indian frontier town.
7. Closed border / blockade: India unilaterally blocked the border from 23 March 1989 to 30 June
8. Discretionary System:
– India closed unilaterally in some segments during 2004-05:
e.g. Falelung crossing-point (Taplejung-Sikkim)
– Regulated at Bhimnagar crossing-point.
9. Visa system: for the Nepalese, who enters India from third country –
: India asked to produce visa to Nepali national traveled from third country:
e.g. While Mr. Tanka Lal Shrestha (working in German Embassy, Kathmandu) was traveling from Lahore to Delhi by Indian Airline on 26 January 2005.
10. Regulated border system :
- For air-passengers since 1 October 2000, after hijacking an Indian aircraft from
Katmandu on 24 December 1999.
- ID card system has been introduced jointly at Nepalganj-Rupaidiya crossing- point from
1 November 2005.
This is more or less a multi-faceted picture or a short account of Indo-Nepal border
So Indo-Nepal border management system consists of a complex one in the world, as history
tells, an example to make detail study.
In general, there is an open border system between Nepal and India. But, is there any treaty
make the border open ?
1. There is no such treaty, agreement or memorandum.
2. Even Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty- 1950 does not have provision of open border.
3. Indian Embassy, Katmandu has said on 2 July 2004 in response an article of this scribe that:
- Open border between two countries has not been mentioned in any of the articles of
- But open border is an emblem of most intimate friendship that has existed between both
countries from ancient time to this date.
So all these facts reveal:
- There is no black and white document on open border system
between Nepal and India.
Then, how the border is made open ?
- It is due to the fact that administration of both the sides did not obstruct to cross the
border without any restriction.
But in the changing situation, open border system has created trouble to maintain peace &
security, law & order in both India and Nepal
7. India has regarded Indo-Nepal border insecure :
- Due to Infiltration of unwanted elements in a disguised manner (Pakistani, Bangladeshi,
Sri Lankan, Afghani, Irani) misusing open border).
- Due to Cross-border terrorism, illegal transportation of arms and ammunition.
8. Deployment of SSB :
India has deployed 45,000 Special Services Bureau (SSB) para-military forces along Indo-Nepal border
– They have a plan to rise to 70,000.
- After the incidents of September 11, 2001 in USA.
- Attack on parliament building in New Delhi on 13 Dec. 2001.
- Explosive incidents in London Railway Stations on 7 July 2005.
- Serial blasts in New Delhi on 29 October 2005.
- Mumbai train 7 bombings on 11 July 2006.
- Maoist rebellion activities for ten years.
- Nepalese Maoists, shaking hands with Indian Maoists-Naxalites.
Due to security reasons, India has categorized Indo-Nepal Border (1, 808 km) in three segments :
Security Sensitive Border (Kanchanpur to Rupandehi) 9 Nepal District, 725 km
Under Observation Border (Nawalparasi to Jhapa) 13 Nepal District, 780 km
Normal Border (Ilam to Taplejung and Dadeldhura to Darchula) 4 Nepal District, 303 km
On an average:
– India has deputed 25 SSB in the distance of 1 km (1 SSB in 40 meter)
– They have constructed 1 Post in every 5 km
9. Security management by Nepal Police
Nepal Police has categorized Nepal-India border into three segments for security
management proposes, on 16 September 2007, in connection to the election of
Constitutional Assembly :
- Highly sensitive border
Parsa – Saptarti= 8 Districts
- Sensitive border
Kanchanpur – Chitwan and
Sunsari – Jhapa=12 Districts
- Normal border
Ilam -Taplejung and
Dadeldhura – Darchula= 6 Districts
10. Nepal has deployed Armed Police Force (AFP) for border security and customs patrolling:
– Originally, Nepal had deputed 410 Nepal Army personnel in 12 Customs Offices and 89 Sub-Customs points of Tarai from 14 March 2001.
– But it was not for border patrolling.
– Ultimately, Nepal Government deployed Armed Police Force for border security and stop revenue leakage in 20 districts of Tarai on 5 March 2007 .
Nepal has deputed:
- 4,740 APF for security and revenue purposes in 20 Tarai districts
- There are 66 border observation posts
- However, AFP offices have been established 4 to 5 km inside the border line
- They have deployed AFP teams on the northern border at Tatopani and Jomsom
- They are planning to deploy teams at Kimathanka and Tinkar
- Nepal has deployed 4 AFP in 1 km whereas India has deployed 25 SSB in 1 km
11. Security concern
1. Nepal herself
- There are more than 60 underground armed groups in the Tarai of Nepal such as Tarai Cobra, Tarai Defense Army, Tarai Kangaroo Court etc.
– They create horror in the plain areas
– It lapses peace and security of life and property
- It is mainly due to:
– Nepal-India open border regime
– And also less vigilance on the Nepal-China regulated border
- Unwanted elements, international terrorists, traffickers of small arms, smugglers, narcotic holders, criminals, abductors cross the open border without any restriction
- They have adversely affected the security in Nepal
2. India and China
- India and China are sensitive on the security concern of Nepal
- They don’t want any transit disturbances from the Nepali territory
- India suspects that Muslim community from southern bordering Madarsa make disturbances to India
- Similarly, China is beware of anti-China (free Tibet) activities from northern frontier
– Buddhist Monasteries have been constructed in the mountain areas
– New Buddhist monks may create head ache to China
- In this context, China and India think:
– Nepali security system should not have lapses to satisfy both the countries
- 3. South Asia
– Nepal’s security concern has also affected the other countries of South Asia- Parliamentarian Mirza Dil Sadbeg was killed on 29 June 1998 in Kathmandu
– The shooter crossed over the open and unattained border and then flew to third country, Bangkok
– Media entrepreneur Jamim Shah was shot dead on 7 February 2010 by suspected Underworld Chhota Rajan Group from beyond the border- General Secretary of Nepali Islami Federation Faizan Ahmed was murdered on 26 September 2011 in broad daylight
– There are other cased of murder, such as central jail yard shooting of Yunus Ansari and the shooting of a Pakistan Embassy official
All these shooters fled beyond the border crossing Nepal-India porous international border
4. Western countries
v United States Country Report on Terrorism- 2009 has cited:
– Large ungoverned space along the Nepal-India border exacerbates the vulnerability and do security shortfalls
– Extremist group could make Nepal as a transit nation
– Laskar-e Tayyiba member Muhammad Omar Madani traveled through Nepal en-route to New Delhi in 2010
v U S Report on ‘Pattern of Global Terrorism- 2003’ mentions:
– Weak border control and poor security infrastructure have made Nepal a transit point for
some outside militants and international terrorists
So Nepal’s border management system is much related to security concern for herself, China, India, and other western countries
12. In order maintain internal and external security system and to make Indo-Nepal border safe and secure-:
– An alternative measure should be implemented as:
1. Enforcing ID card / passport system.
2. Fencing the frontier.
3. Guarding the border.
1) Enforcing ID card / passport system
Most of the countries of the world have adopted ID Card system
– it is pragmatic for Nepal and India to adopt this system for the security reason.
– Canada and USA has the open border system, but ID has to be produced while crossing the border.
2) Fencing the frontier
“ Good fences make good neighbors.”
Good neighbors make good fences too
– It will be not too bad to erect barbed wire fencing between Nepal and India with 180 exit / entry points. Because:
– India and Pakistan have common barbed iron fencing (2,912 km).
– US President signed on a bill on 27 October 2006 to erect fence (1,120 km) between USA and Mexico
– A high wall is being constructed in between Bhutan (Funcholing and Gyalephung) and India (Jayagaon) unilaterally.
– Wire fence has been raised in 856 km. between India (Tripura) and Bangladesh, etc.
– India has erected 742 km. wire fencing in Kashmir (Line of Control).
– Indian State of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has opined on 11 January 2011 in Patna that Indo-Nepal border should be properly fenced to obstruct illegal activities
3) Guarding the border by border security force :
- This is one of the alternative measures to maintain national security both in Nepal and India.
- Army men or armed Police Force has an important role to protect the national border.
– India-Bangladesh and Indo-Pakistan (Line of Control) border
have BSF, whereas Indo-Nepal has SSB
Nepal-India has Armed Police Force.
– But sometimes military battalions,
guarding the common borderline,
might have confrontation.
- For example, 16 Indian and 2 Bangladeshi BSF personnel were killed fighting each other on 18 April 2001.
13. Security measures :
For the security reason, the border must be:
- Restricted for the terrorists.
- Controlled for smugglers.
- Checked for criminals.
- Obstructed for girl traffickers.
- Stopped for narcotic holders.
- But it must be regulated for genuine passengers.
- There should be efficient management for export and import of merchandise legally.
- Special arrangements must be made for the inhabitants living 5 km either side, to cross the
border many times a day without feeling insecure.
1. Insecure Indo-Nepal border could be made secure with political will and commitment
from both sides.
2. Security concern should be a key dimension of border management between Nepal
3. Nepal must assure China that there will be no security lapses to stop anti-China
activities (Free Tibet) from the northern frontier of Nepal.
4. Similarly, Nepal must satisfy India that there will be no safe haven for Al-Queda,
Laskare Toyyba and Pakistani ISI agents from the Nepalese soil.
14. Border dispute and encroachment :
- There were disputes, claim and counter-claims in 32 places in connection to the border demarcation during 1961-62.
– These were Kimathanka, Tinkar, Chhangru, Lapchi, Gauri Sankar, Nangpa Bhanjyang, Langtang, Mustang etc.
- Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) was claimed by China.
- But all the issues had been settled within a period of two years, with the watershed principle and with a view of mutual respect and Panchasheel.
- Issue of Sagarmatha was settled in the Prime Minister level.
- Third joint border inspection to renew the Boundary Protocol is going on from 2006.
- There is a small issue of the dislocation of border pillar number 57, located north of
Lamabagar area of Dolakha District.
- Missing pillar 57 was identified recently and the talk has been continued.
- Next issue is to mention the dual height of Sagarmatha
– Height without snow = 8,844.47 meter
– Height with snow = 8,848 meter
- There are encroachment, dispute, claim and counter claim
- at 54 places in 21 districts (out of 26 districts) of Nepal.
- Total area of issues have been as 60,000 hectare
- Kalapani-Limpiyadhura, Susta, Sandakpur, Manebhanjyang, Pashupatinagar Thori, Brahmadev, Pyaratal, Chyangthapu, Kabeli-Kabru, Mechi river area etc.
15. Issue of Kalapani-Limpiyadhura encroachment –
- Main issue is the origination of the river Mahakali.
- As there is a controversy on the delineation of the source of river Mahakali-
Whether it is originated from:
– Limpiyadhura or
– Lipulek or
– A pond near Kali Temple ?
All the historical maps and documents say that the River Kali has been originated from Limpiyadhura
16. Issue of Susta encroachment –
- Changing of the course of the river Narayani during great floods, is the main cause
- The area left by the river has been encroached by India
- Susta is surrounded by India on three sides: east, west and south
The then river course (during the period of the Treaty of Sugauli- 1816) must be identified
17. Military personnel should be –
- Aware of national boundary.
- They must act to protect country’s international boundary as Border Security Force.
- If there is no clear demarcation of international boundary, the state cannot survive.
- Military cadre should have knowledge of map reading and its handling.
- They must recognize different type, shape and size of border pillars such as:
– Main boundary pillar (BP)
– Reference pillar (RP)
– Subsidiary pillar (SP)
– Demarcation of boundary line
– Maintain No-man’s land (Das Gaja)