The border between Nepal and India is so open, smooth and easy to cross that it doesn’t even feel like an international border separating two countries that once fought under different rulers. There is not much difference between the landscapes, bazaars and people on the two sides of the border. There’s no language problem; Nepalis understand Hindi and many shop owners on the Indian side of the border speak fluent Nepali. For many Nepalis who travel to India for work or religious purposes, crossing into India is like going to offices or temples in Nepal. Tens of thousands of Nepalis and Indians cross the border each day to do business, get education and treatment, visit relatives and seek divine blessings.
That’s one version of the story. A feel-good version that epitomises the best of the relationship between Nepal and India. Unfortunately that’s not the only version of the Indo-Nepal border crossing story. That’s not the only truth. If you are poor, illiterate and badly dressed, crossing the border becomes a harrowing experience. The policemen on both sides of the border who are supposed to facilitate the crossing suddenly become a bunch of thugs who harass travellers and extort their hard earned money. The scene at some border crossing points at times is so horrific that you may want to compare them with rape.
The Banbasa (India)-Mahendranagar (Nepal) border crossing point is one of the busiest and probably the most notorious of the transit points between two countries. India has two separate checkpoints within the distance of about 100 metres. If you are entering Nepal your luggage will be searched by Indian policemen first. Then you are allowed to cross the bridge over the Mahakali River. The structure is actually the barrage (Indians call it Sarda barrage as a canal with the same name originates from here. The inequality in Indo-Nepal relationships is aptly reflected on the sizes of the canals that go towards respective countries from the Mahakali River. The canal on the Nepali side is about a tenth the size of the Sarda canal that flows into India.) Soon after crossing the bridge will come another checkpoint operated by Seema Surakshya Bal (SSB), India’s border security force along the border with Nepal. This controversial check post came into existence a few years ago almost overnight provoking much anger from the Nepali population. Continue reading An Experience of Crossing the Nepal-India Border→
In an effort to reduce tensions between their two nations, Nepalis and Indians come at a border point to hoist their national flags, sing their national songs and pay respect to their martyrs. But Indian Border Security Force’s harassment continues in eastern border (see box)
By Janak Nepal
Flags were hoisted, national anthems sung and tributes paid to martyrs of both countries—Nepal and India— in no-man’s land at Jamunaha border point near the Nepali town of Nepalgunj on Saturday (30 Jan) for a reason. The people from the two countries exchanged roses in a show of friendship and harmony.
Out of the 1808-km Nepal-India border, various rivers traverse 650 km and many border pillars have been washed away. But those pillars that are close to human settlements are found to have been removed by the Indian peasants, often in collusion with the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), the Indian paramilitary force deployed at the border.
The border dispute between Nepal and India has gained prominence following the recent visits to border regions by top leaders of UCPN (Maoist) as a part of the party’s fourth phase of protest programme. Though the party on Friday called off its nationwide strike that was supposed to start on Sunday, it has stressed that its campaign for national sovereignty and civilian supremacy will continue. It is in this heated political climate that Pranab Kharel, Biswas Baral and Kamal Raj Sigdel asked Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, the former Director General of Survey Department, to shed light on various border issues.
You have just visited some of the disputed points on the Indo-Nepal border. India has been saying that 98 percent of the strip map is complete and disputes remain only over Susta and Kalapani.
Shrestha: Nepal and India share 1808-km long border. According to official estimates, 98 percent of this border has been demarcated and 182 border maps prepared. On that basis, 8,553 border pillars have been erected. Regarding the clarity of these border maps, the then Indian Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee during his official visit to Nepal had stated that since there were some disputes over these maps, they be corrected and forwarded to the plenipotentiaries of both the countries for signature. This also indicates there is some ambiguity regarding the maps. The Constituent Assembly’s (CA) Committee on International Relations and Human Rights visited the border areas from Susta to Tanakpur from Dec. 24, 2009 — Jan. 3, 2010. We had an officer from the Survey Department who had brought the maps of the disputed areas as requested by the CA committee. Upon tallying the maps in some disputed pocket areas, the team could not find the main boundary pillars — though they existed on the map. Continue reading On Nepal-India Border Issue→