Police tighten net on smugglers

- BHUSAN YADAV, Birjung

Nov 22, 2014-

A group of 50 women from Inaruwa and Chapkaiyaa, border areas between Nepal and India, picketed the District Police Office in Birgunj on Thursday, demanding the police to adopt a softer approach on smuggling.

“The tighter control has made it difficult for us to survive,” complained Salma Khatun of Inaruwa.

A large number of people in the border areas work as porters of smuggled goods. Around 100 women are actively involved in transporting garment products from the bordering Indian town of Raxaul to Brijung.

“A single women carries around 10-15 units of Kurtha Suruwal,” Superintendent of Police Dibesh Lohani said. He advised the women to do formal trade, not smuggling.

The women came to Lohani after the police started detaining those involved in smuggling. Besides the open border, a huge difference in prices in Nepal and in India is encouraging smuggling.

Chandra Kishore, a local analyst, said working as porters of smuggled goods has been a profession for a certain group of people.

“ People from other areas also join them. There is a need for proper identification to address the situation,” he said, adding this problem is not only in Birjung, but in almost all bordering areas.

Birjung is considered a heaven for smugglers due to its close proximity with both Kathmandu and Raxaul that has a railway connectivity.

Products like daily essential commodities, clothes, motor parts, kitchen utensils, electric products and fertilisers, among others, are smuggled to Birjung from India, and dispatched to other parts of Nepal.

After being transferred to Parsa, Lohani replaced in-charges of police stations in Buspark, Chhapkaiya, Inarwa, Gandak, among others. He said he took the move after he arrested trader offering bribe to police officials.

With the tightening of the border, smugglers have started to change their routes. “The goods are now smuggled through the eastern areas of Birgunj,” said a trader.

“A large shipment is carried out through the Raxaul-Sitamani railway area on a daily basis.”

According Bijay Giri, a resident of Raxaul, traders even stop trains outside the junction and load-unload smuggled goods. The police measure has helped boost the government’s revenue as some smugglers have started to formally import goods.

Shantamaya Shrestha from Hetauda, who was involved in smuggling previously, said they now fill in customs clearance documents collectively and import goods.

“At least, we have earned some respect now,” she said. “In fact, we are earning higher now, as we do not have to pay ‘monthly’ to the police.”

Published: 23-11-2014 09:54

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