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Nepal border turns hub of drug smuggling

LiveMint logoLiveMint 14-05-2017 Shaswati Das

New Delhi: While infiltration and cattle smuggling plague India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively, it’s the 1,751-km border with Nepal that has become the hub for smuggling drugs, weapons and fertilizers, besides human trafficking, data showed.

The India-Pakistan border in Kashmir saw 155 terrorist incidents between October and March, home ministry data showed, with 43 infiltration attempts till February 2017 alone.

In 2016, the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar police and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) which patrol the Indo-Nepal border, arrested 267 people for smuggling drugs and narcotics; 46 for smuggling weapons and 77 for smuggling 70,650 kg of fertilizer, data showed.

The India-Bangladesh border in 2016 saw heavy cattle smuggling, with the Border Security Force (BSF) arresting 670 people for smuggling 168,000 cattle units. At the Nepal border in the same period, the SSB arrested 527 people for smuggling 8,828 cattle units, the home ministry data showed.

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A home ministry official said the government has a “multi-pronged approach” to ensure border security. “This includes deployment of the Border Guarding Force (BGF), construction of border fences, border roads, installation of floodlights, construction of Border Out Posts, and introduction of top-of-the line tech surveillance equipment, providing advanced weapons and specialized vehicles to security forces,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The number of human trafficking victims rescued by SSB at the Nepal border stood at 33 in 2014, 336 in 2015, 501 in 2016 and 180 till March 2017. These include both Indian and Nepalese citizens.

According to an SSB official who spoke on condition of anonymity, smuggling of arms and narcotics happens mostly at the densely populated areas, not the forested stretches. “However, we have stepped up vigil along the entire stretch to crack down on any such activities,” he said.

The official added anti-smuggling offensives were often carried out with involvement of the state police.

“There are various agencies that are involved in carrying out operations—which can be joint or individual ops by the SSB. In a joint operation, (once) we catch a cache of arms of narcotics, it is handed over to the local police or the Narcotics Control Bureau,” the official said.

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