Shashi Bhushan, Pravin Verma, Atul Upadhyaya and Digvijay Kumar
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ho controls parts of Bihar’s border areas on the India-Nepal Line of Control? Is it the armed border force, Nepal’s armed police force, customs, IB, border district police, or none of the above? The fact is that nobody has complete control on the entire LoC. There are dozens of trade routes between India and Nepal, from Valmikinagar in West Champaran to Galagalia in Kishanganj.
Four teams of Bhaskar reporters, who spent five days on the 729-km-long border, found that these routes provide uninterrupted movement to antisocial elements across the borders. The team discovered that smuggling of narcotics, cattle, weapons and human trafficking on the border is an open business.
With just rifles, binoculars and night vision equipment, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) post in the region is thinly equipped. They don’t even have motorcycles for patrolling.
An SSB official acknowledged that it is impossible to make the border full-proof in the current situation. Numerous people living in the border regions have dual citizenship, he said. People have set up farmlands on both sides of the border. The 120-km route between Susta in West Champaran and Raksaul on the Nepal border is covered in dense forest, mountains, and streams. There is a lot of smuggling going on here, the official added.
The five-day investigation by Bhaskar confirmed that Gandak river is the assumed border of both the countries and has become the green corridor here for these activities. Every day, the smugglers traverse the river and enter India via Susta. The river also serves a site for cattle smuggling.
Currency Exchange Bazaar
Starting from Nepal’s Raksaul custom office to the other side of the railway dome, Bhaskar saw bundles of hundred rupee notes arranged neatly on 80 tables. The team learnt that none of them had valid licences to operate and charged ₹4 commission for every ₹100 exchanged.
New route of human trafficking
From authorised routes crossing through Lokha in Khutona block, which is situated along the India-Nepal border, apples, grapes, and paddy reach India from Nepal. At a distance is the Balan river, which is a hotspot for human trafficking between the two countries. A week ago, the SSB rescued six girls near the river who were being brought from Nepal. The activity has increased since a direct bus service between Lokha and Delhi began six months ago.
To prevent this, the SSB has started Jagriti Bus in Sonbarsa, Eastern Champaran, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, and Jogbani. The aim is to make people aware of trafficking. As many as 23 cases of human trafficking in the region have been registered this year.