Beehive of Islamic terrorists
Arvind Kumar from Tanakpur/Banbasa
On August 17, when Delhi Police Special Cell arrested notorious Abdul Karim alias Tunda from Banbasa (Uttarakhand)-Mahendra Nagar (Nepal) area, the Uttarakhand Police and the State Intelligence Department did not have even the slightest inkling of the most wanted fugitive from India being present in their vicinity. The Central Government sees this as the most serious intelligence lapse on behalf of Uttarakhand Government. Tunda’s arrest has once again exposed vulnerability of Uttarakhand-Nepal border in terms of increased activities of Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Islamic fundamentalists and Dawood Ibrahim gang in combination.
Ever since Uttarakhand’s creation in 2000, it has been proving Achille’s heel in India’s security. Besides, the Chinese and Nepalese Maoists also have stepped up their anti-India activities on the border. While in a sharp contrast, there remains a complete lull on the UP-Nepal border due to their police and intelligence set up being robust.
Ever since Nepal has ceased to be the Hindu Rashtra to become a secular state, Muslim population has been swelling beyond imagination on both sides of Uttarakhand-Nepal border where many illegal colonies, mosques and madarsas have been springing up. The crime rate also jumped up substantially along the Uttarakhand-Nepal border. Notorious Abdul Karim alias Tunda, wanted in India for more than 40 bomb blasts, had been frequenting the Uttarakhand-Nepal border for setting up madrasas where innocent children were trained in bomb-making, running guns, peddling drug and circulating Indian Fake Currency. Still, Uttarakhand Education Ministry does not have complete data about these radical Islamic madrasas being run illegally from the land.
Muslims of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin have for past many years been grabbing no-man’s land on both sides of international border with connivance of Nepali authorities for putting up their illegal colonies, mosques and madrasas, stretching from Uttarakhand to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim.
Tension continues to grip the people living along Uttarakhand-Nepal border in districts Champawat and Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand for past several years, as Nepali Muslim miscreants have encroached upon no-man’s land through removing pillars marking the international border to build their cemented houses; they are also tilling the adjoining vacant land. Most of these illegal squatters are storing in these houses contrabands, like—lethal arms, ammunitions, narcotic drugs and fake Indian currency notes smuggled from Pakistan meant to be circulated in big cities of Uttarakhand, like Nainital, Ranikhet, Almora, Haldwani, Rudrapur, Kashipur, Jaspur, Roorkie and Haridwar etc. During Kumbh fair in Allahabad early in the year, this border area from Nepal side had also been the major point of smuggling of hashish, marijuana, opium, other narcotic drugs, besides being hotbed of several other criminal activities. Most of the illegal squatters here have either underworld or Maoist links who had been indulging in anti-India activities.
Though on May 30, the Home Ministry of Nepal issued a press release stating that in a day-long meeting both India and Nepal sides have agreed upon to curb criminal activities on the Indo-Nepal border, like— narcotic drugs and women- trafficking, smuggling of arms, ammunitions and fake Indian currency notes (FICN) into India. During the annual meeting, Indian Home Secretary RK Singh and Nepal’s Home Secretary Navin Kumar Ghimire led their teams in Kathmandu, in which they also agreed upon to find the missing and damaged border pillars, reconstruct and repair them on regular basis and enhance vigilance along the border. In the meeting, Akhilesh Mishra, Joint Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs (North) and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad were also present. Both sides also agreed to increase capacity of Nepal’s Armed Police Force, and to expand India’s Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to control criminal and terrorist activities along the porous Indo-Nepal border.
However, all these statements are mere clichés mouthed every year by both sides as part of their annual ritual. For past ten years, Nepali Muslims and Hindus alike have been building mud-houses on the no-man’s land and encroaching into the Indian territory, where the border pillars have mysteriously disappeared.
In Champawat district, Superintendent of Police Karan Singh Naganyal admits, “I know very well about the encroachments made from Nepal side on the no-man’s land. In Brihmdev Mandi (Nepal), initially they built mud- houses on the no man’s land, thereafter these houses have turned into cemented houses. As this is a sensitive international issue, I cannot take direct action, so I’ve sent a detailed report to the DM Champawat.” The DM Sridhar Babu Adandaki said, “I’ve received the report. I know all about the encroachments being made from Nepal side, I’ve ordered an enquiry into the matter. Then, I’ll send a report to the state government of Uttarakhand.”
In Uttarakhand, three districts—Pithoragarh, Champawat and Udham Singh Nagar—are on Indo-Nepal border. In Pithoragarh, bordering towns are Dharchula and Jauljibi, in Champawat bordering towns are Tanakpur and Banbasa, in Udham Singh Nagar bordering town is Khatima. In these Indian border areas, people’s temper sometimes rise high and situation comes to flash-point due to disappearance of border pillars and Nepalese people’s tendency of encroaching into the Indian territory.
On January 1, 2008, people from both Nepali and Indian side became agitated over disappearance of border pillar no 3. Then, about 200 Indian people from Tanakpur gathered and started raising slogans against Nepalese people; they crossed over the Sharada river barrage (or, Mahakali River in Nepali) in a procession on foot to reach Brihmdev Bazar in Nepal to engage in a heated exchange with Nepalese people, then suddenly both sides started throwing stones and wood on one another. This riot-like situation continued for more than 15 minutes which left several persons injured, one Indian among them named as Gopal Singh Dhami sustained serious injuries, who had to be hospitalised. Later, policemen from India and Nepal side both intervened to bring the situation under control. In fact, most of the Brihmdev Bazar locality is situated illegally on no man’s land. Meanwhile, border pillars no 24, 25 and 26 have also been removed stealthily by Nepali people in order to encroach upon the no man’s land.
Again on October 18, 2011, tension between Indian and Nepali communities soared high in Banbasa (India)/Mahendra Nagar (Nepal) area, when the Indian security agency Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) stopped construction of a hotel on no-man’s land in Mahendra Nagar across Banbasa close to international border pillar no 8A. The hotel was being constructed by two Nepali citizens Bhakta Bahadur Rana and Kalyan Pal. A prompt action by the SSB team raised heckles of the Nepalese people who assembled on the spot and started raising slogans against the SSB officials and India. The SSB sleuths were apprehensive that this illegally constructed hotel could be used as transit point for gangsters, terrorists and smugglers to slip stealthily into India. Still, all these encroachments on the international border are being made with the tacit approval and support by the Nepalese authorities. As an example, Nepalese police and administrative officials reached the spot in ward no 11 in Mahendra Nagar where the hotel was under construction on no-man’s land, they perforce had to half-heartedly admit that building hotel there was illegal, yet refused to stop its construction work on vague pretexts of international implications between New Delhi and Kathmandu.
In 2012 the Director General SSB and Indian Ambassador in Nepal jointly surveyed the no-man’s land from Nepal side and found massive encroachments on it. According to a report made by them, over last two years 1,924 border pillars along the 1,761 km-long Indo-Nepal border have gone missing by side of five Indian states—Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim. Other 1,540 border pillars have been vandalised using force. The report further added, out of the total 6,844 border pillars, 3,464 have been found to be in a dilapidated condition due mainly to lack of regular repairs. A senior official said, “As Nepal is a friendly country with whom we share an open border, the missing border pillars pose serious security threat to India. Thus, we have asked our Nepali counterparts to look into the matter with urgency and get them repaired.” Based on specific intelligence inputs, the Indian Ambassador in Nepal informed Nepal Government in Kathmandu that terrorist organisations like Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Indian Mujahideen and others continued to use Indo-Nepal border for pushing in Pak-trained terrorists, besides conducting many other criminal activities, thus it is necessary to step up the border vigilance.”
Nepali political instability is to blame
Due to continued political instability in Nepal, Nepalese Government’s response and action on Indian suggestions, however urgent they are, remains lackadaisical and half-hearted. That is why the problem continues to suppurate in Uttarakhand and elsewhere. According to an Indian official, India in previous meetings had been requesting Nepal to sign the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and a revised Extradition Treaty, which Nepal keeps deferring due to their on-going political instability. More than 90 per cent of border with Nepal has been agreed upon, thus India wants Nepal’s concurrence on it without delay, but Nepal hesitates due to the heckles raised by Nepal’s Maoists and other opposition leaders, who are more interested in throwing spanner in the good work, rather than having any ideological conviction or legal objection.
As per the survey of Indo-Nepal boundary completed in 1926-27 during the British period and signed by Nepalese king of Rana Dynasty, border pillars were erected to demarcate duly the boundary, and these border pillars were marked with numbers starting from then the United Province (UP)—now district Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, and ending in Sikkim. According to the treaty, even numbered pillars were to be maintained and repaired by Nepal and odd numbered pillars to be maintained by India. However, the practice of their repair was abandoned around the time the British left India in 1947, and Rana Dynasty was overthrown in a coup in Nepal. Land measuring ten yards on either side of these boundary pillars was marked as “no-man’s land.”
Sugauli Treaty signed between British India and Nepal in 1816, however, stated clearly that Mahakali river (Indians call it as Sharada River) marked the borderline between India and Nepal which flows turbulently in the foothills of Pithoragarh mountains. Besides, Mahakali, three other rivers Mechi, Narayani and Susta serve as India-Nepal border measuring in total about 595 km in length, however, during rainy season all these rivers are prone to shift their course from Nepal into Indian territory or vice versa, which again causes periodic border related controversies.