Susta locals take risky boat ride to enter India

  • Alleged SSB harassment in the name of border security screening drives many to avoid usual route
- Narayan Sharma, NAWALPARASI

Sep 4, 2017-

The people of Susta, a Nawalparasi village located at the Nepal-India border, have long been relying on nearby Indian markets to buy food and daily essentials. 

In the recent times, however, villagers say the Indian border security force, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), is trying to restrict the cross-border movement. 

Incidents of SSB personnel harassing villagers at the border in the name of security has become common, Bahur Ansari, a villager said. 

The SSB personnel carry out security pat-downs, interrogations and rummage through the groceries as villagers are made to stand in queue, which has caused us a great inconvenience, he said.

Susta villagers have to cover a distance of up to 30km to reach the nearest Indian town. With the start of security screening process, they have been forced to spend hours on end to get the SSB clearance.  

Frustrated by the time-consuming security procedure, many villagers have taken to crossing the border through the Narayani river on boats to avoid the SSB these days.  

Ansari said 200 to 300 villagers take risky boat journeys daily to reach the Indian towns of Bhedihari and Bhaisalotan. The number of people crossing the river is particularly high on Sundays and Thursdays for the bi-weekly markets. 

Besides the threat posed to their lives by the Narayani, there is also the risk of getting arrested; but the villagers seem not at all concerned.   

It is not just shoppers endangering their lives to reach the Indian towns. Ansari said there are children who go to schools across the border, and they travel on boats with the others to avoid hassle.   

Published: 04-09-2017 07:43

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