July 26–The country’s imports and exports from Nepal-India border point at Bhairahawa in the west have been severely hit, as Indian border security personnel have started conducting thorough inspection of cargo vehicles.
The heightened security measure, which is quite unusual and uncommon, has created serpentine queue of cargo trucks at the border point, raising the spectre of traders using other border points for cross-border trade. India’s Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) had first increased surveillance and instituted stricter security measure at the border point around five days ago. Since then, Indian security personnel have been climbing on each and every truck bound for India and inspecting every corner of the vehicle.
As a result, movement of cargo trucks has come to a crawl, creating traffic congestion that stretches as far as four kilometres.
This has hit imports and exports of goods from the second biggest Nepal-India trading point.
The SSB had increased its surveillance along the border point in Bhairahawa few days after the Indian government allowed it to run an intelligence wing along the borders of Nepal and Bhutan to keep tabs on activities of “anti-India and other inimical” elements.
With this decision, the SSB, according to India’s state news agency Press Trust of India, can “train and depute its intelligence agents” along the borders of Nepal and Bhutan, and “deploy an exclusive combat snoop wing for border guarding and internal security duties”.
Although Indian security personnel hold the right to carry out operations to protect their country, what is surprising is that the SSB has heightened security only along the border point in Bhairahawa.
Nepal shares 1,751-km open border with India. But this kind of security operation has not been reported at other border points.
“If this continues, traders will start using other border points to import and export goods,” said Gopal Bhattarai, information officer at the Bhairahawa Customs Office.
Since the security was heightened at the border point, only around 100 cargo vehicles have started entering Nepal from India per day. Previously, 300 to 350 cargo trucks used to ferry goods to Nepal every day.
“This will hit our revenue collection because trucks that pass through our border are used to bring in goods and raw materials from India,” said Bhattarai, adding, “We have already informed the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Department about this incident.”
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has said it is aware of the issue. “We’re trying to sort it out,” Indian Embassy Spokesperson Ruby Jaspreet Sharma told the Post.
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