Sunday, August 2, 2009

Indian criminals add to Tarai security woes

Indian criminals add to Tarai security woes

KATHMANDU, Aug 2: The influx of criminal gangs into southern parts of Nepal from Indian territory and particularly from Bihar state has increased lately following massive crackdown by police across the border.

Highly-placed sources at the Home Ministry said that a large number of gangsters is learnt to be taking refuge in bordering villages of southern Nepal---thanks largely to tough security measures adopted by the Nitish Kumar government to contain crime in Bihar.

“Though it is not a new trend for criminals from either country to flee across border, the numbers of those coming into Nepal from bordering areas in India have gone up lately,” said a senior official at the ministry. “We have reports that criminals fleeing Bihar to evade police action are currently taking refuge in bordering villages in Nepal.”

Maoist-infested Indian states have also stepped up efforts to bolster law and order.

Senior police officials say the increased influx of Indian criminal gangs has created additional security woes in the already troubled Tarai districts, particularly Siraha, Saptari, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Bara, Parsa and Rautahat.

Police believe that armed groups active in the Tarai employ the criminals to carry out kidnappings, extortions and even killings as they are professional criminals. Bihar is considered notorious for kidnappings.

With a view to curbing cross-border crime, the government recently set up Border Observation Posts of the Armed Police Force (APF) in all the bordering Tarai districts. The Indian authorities have also deployed a large number of border security forces along the Indo-Nepal border.

Nevertheless, there is no respite from the infiltration of criminal gangs-thanks to the open border that India and Nepal share.

“The border police outposts are stationed mostly at points where there is a motorable road,” said Deputy Inspector General of Police Bhisma Prasain, chief of Eastern Regional Police Headquarters, Biratnagar. “Criminals often walk in where border outposts are not located.”

According to DIG Prasain, intelligence reports show an influx of criminals from across the border from Banke in the west to Jhapa in the east. “Police officials in bordering districts have expedited meetings with their Indian counterparts to share information about such criminals,” he added.

What is interesting, according to police officials, is that the number of armed robberies in the Tarai has gone down dramatically in recent months.

There were only two cases of armed robbery each in Siraha and Saptari ---the most troubled districts---in the past seven months. While Dhanusha district saw no armed robbery during the period, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa districts witnessed 5, 6, 2, 2 and 3 armed robberies respectively.

Officials believe there is a direct relationship between increase in the activities of armed ´political´ groups and reduction in the instances of armed robbery.

“We do have credible evidence that criminal groups are engaged in kidnappings and extortions in the guise of political groups as this involves less risk than armed robbery,” a senior official at the Home Ministry said.

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