Situation worsens at Indo-Nepal border, thousands gather to pelt stones at Indian soldiers
Tension escalated at the Indo-Nepal border on Friday, a day after a Nepalese citizen was allegedly killed in firing by Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) jawans as arguments between the Indian and Nepalese side over what India claimed to be an “illegal bridge” on no man’s land spiralled.
Over 5,000 Nepalese citizens staged protests during the day that saw two SSB officers and a sub-inspector along with a few civilians sustaining injuries in stone-pelting by the agitators. Seven SSB jawans were injured on Thursday too.
The massive crowd dispersed only after the chief district officer (CDO) of Nepal’s Kanchanpur district announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the victim’s family later in the evening. This came even as the border remained sealed on Friday and the SSB monitored movement on the bordering areas along with Lakhimpur Kheri police. Officials said “a few anti-Indian elements tried to misuse the occasion to create panic among residents of bordering districts.”
In a meeting between Nepalese and Indian officials on Thursday, it had been decided that construction work on the bridge on no man’s land would be stopped permanently and there would be no protests thereafter. However, on Friday thousands of Nepalese nationals gathered near Basahi village of Sampoorna Nagar at border pillar no. 200 and started protesting. They also brought with them the body of the Nepalese citizen who died in the firing on Thursday. Indian officials are yet to confirm the death of the man.
In Delhi, external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said India has sought from Nepal the postmortem and forensic reports of the Nepalese national allegedly killed in firing by the SSB. “The government of Nepal is being requested through diplomatic channels to share postmortem and forensic reports to facilitate the process,” Baglay said.
Kheri superintendent of police Manoj Kumar Jha told TOI, “We only showed resistance and never hit back. Nepalese protesters were pelting stones at us and a total of 17 persons, including a sub-inspector and two SSB men, were injured. Fortunately, Nepal police also tried to control the situation and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh was announced by the Kanchanpur CDO. The border is still sealed, though the situation is under control.”
Meanwhile, the SSB’s 26th battalion has been put on high alert and the district magistrate of Pilibhit is in constant touch with the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary as well as officials in Nepal. AK Das, SSB’s deputy inspector general, said, “The situation continued to be tense as the Nepal police was finding it difficult to effectively control the agitated local crowd. This was the reason they repeatedly resorted to stone-pelting at the Indian side.”
Das added that SSB’s 26th battalion had been directed to take all precautionary steps in the border district that lies next to Uttarakhand and that officials of the two border districts, Kanchanpur of Nepal and Lakhimpur Kheri in India, had met after the incident and agreed to maintain peace and order. “The Union ministry of home affairs has been informed about the situation as well as the joint proceedings being carried out by officials of the two countries,” he said.