Monday, December 25, 2006

Nepalis 'occupy' 205 acres in Bihar

The Indo-Nepal border may fast turn into another flashpoint between the two south Asian neighbours. Forcible occupation of 205 acres of land by alleged Nepali citizens along the 'no man's land' near in Kishanganj district has begun rankling Indian authorities here.

The border has earlier been a contentious issue because of the Nepali Maoist threat, especially as Indian paramilitary forces say it is used freely by the Red brigade to smuggle arms and ammunition back and forth along the border and to meet their Indian counterparts.

S Yaiskul Singh, second-in-command of the 21st battalion of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), told reporters that due to the change in the course of the river Mechhi, which actually demarcates the Indo-Nepal border on the Indian side, 205 acre of fertile land alongside the No-Man's land now falls on Nepal's side. "Nepalese citizens living in the vicinity have now illegally occupied the land and are also tilling it. Huge chunks of land have also been brought under tea plantation," he said.

SSB sources said before the induction of the popular government when the Maoist insurgency was at its peak, the Red brigade had planted 87 flags in the area. "The bunkers and flags planted by insurgents were uprooted," Singh said, adding that the Maoists had also tried to dismantle the border pillars marking the demarcation.

The land, which is near Kurlikot village under Thakurganj police station in Kishanganj district, continues to be under alleged Nepali occupation despite repeated requests. The Nepali authorities concerned have not taken necessary steps to vacate them, Singh claimed.

"Though the matter was repeatedly raked up at high-level meetings, the Nepal authorities only appear to duck the issue," he said.

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