Nepal-India Open Border

 

Nepal-India Open Border:

Challenges to Peace and Security

 

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

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Background

The border between Nepal and India is open for centuries. It is going on traditionally and culturally.  However, the border has been misused by unwanted elements. It has affected the peace and security of the inhabitants of both the frontiers. Due to illegal cross-border activities, human rights to live and to perform business have been violated.

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Issues

In fact, open border has both opportunities and challenges. Opportunities of the open border have been regarded as convenience in movement across the international border without any hassle. There have been facilities of quick response during hazard, natural calamities and social activities.

 

On the other side of the same coin, there are many challenges of the open border regime to maintain peace and security and protection of human rights on both frontiers. Some of these are human trafficking, cross-border terrorism and criminal activities, trafficking of narcotic drugs, smuggling of goods and machinery, illegal transaction of small arms and gun-powder, trans-border theft, robbery through the open border.

 

Examples

Abdul Karim Tunda, one of India’s most wanted top twenty Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists was arrested on August 16, 2013. Yasin Bhatkal, co-founder of the Indian Mujahideen, a militant group banned in India, and one of India’s most wanted terrorism suspect was arrested by Nepal police near India’s border on August 28, 2013; and they were handed over to India unofficially.

 

Indian criminal Bablu Dubey, who did 36 crimes in India sneaked Nepal through open border, was arrested by Nepal Police on May 29, 2013. Aasin Miya was arrested with Rs. 6.9 million Indian fake currency notes on May 28, 2012 in Bara district border. Similarly, Nepal Police arrested Amit Sarraf of Raxaul, an Indian national, with smuggled gold in Parwanipur from Indian border bound bus on May 19, 2014.

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On the other hand, Nepali industrialist Ganga Bishan Rathi was abducted from Biratnagar, Nepal and he was taken to Siliguri, India and was killed on January 10, 2013 after 23 days of his abduction. Maiti Nepal, a social organization, rescued 264 girls and women (15-28 years old) during 2013 in the Belahia-Sunauli border crossing point. They were supposed to be sold in Indian brothels.

 

Reactions

So far as the reactions on open border system are concerned, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said on 20 February 2016, while meeting with the visiting Nepali Prime Minister KP Oli: ‘We will not allow terrorists and criminals to abuse our open border. Security agencies of two countries will intensify co-operation.

 

In this context, Prime Minister KP Oli has said on 22 February: ‘Open border is a common asset of Nepal and India. Both sides should maintain security of No-man’s Land, so that spirit of open border remains alive in practical terms under all circumstances.

 

Indian External Minister Sushma Swaraj said on 28 July 2014 ‘Open border has been misused for criminal activities in the border areas, such as human trafficking, import and export of illegal drugs, smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Notes etc.’

 

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjeet Rae said on February 17, 2014 ‘India and Nepal are very close friends and neighbours that share an open border. But someone commits a crime in one country and runs to the other. This is a problem for both countries.’

 

Means to resolve the issue

In the context of the challenges created by open border, some alternative measures should be implemented jointly in order to maintain internal and external peace and security system, and to make Indo-Nepal border safe and secure:

  1. In the first phase, a mechanism should be developed to monitor by the CCTV cameras, in the border check-points, installed into a narrow corridor. Travelers should walk through that corridor speaking his/her name, address, purpose of crossing the border and number of days he/she is travelling. It should be monitored digitally from the inner room.

 

  1. As the second alternative, travelers should produce ID card, while crossing the international border point, that should be scanned and let the genuine passengers go through immediately. If it is found defaulter, they should be interrogated in a separate room.

 

  1. Ultimately, the border should be fenced with 360 exit/entry points (distance of more or less 5 km) to maintain peace and security. The inhabitants should travel 2-3 km to reach the exit/entry points. American Poet Robert Frost has written ‘Good neighbours make good fences.’

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Concluding remark

For the security reason, Nepal-India international border must be regulated slowly and unknowingly in a phase wise basis to restrict the terrorists, control smugglers, check criminals, obstruct human traffickers, stop narcotic holders, vigilant to smuggler of fake Indian currency notes. But there must not be any delayed for genuine passengers to cross the international border. Visa system should not be introduced because of the perspective of age old friendship between the government to government and people to people level relationship.

 

It is to be noted that ID card system has been implemented on the air route since October 1, 2000 after the high jacking of Indian aircraft flown from Kathmandu. So it is imperative to introduce ID system also in the surface route, in the perspective of Islamic State (IS) terroristic activities in India’s neighbouring countries Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is mentionable that there is no treaty or agreement to make the border open between Nepal and India.

 

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