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A deadly Nepal-India border dispute lingers

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

A deadly Nepal-India border dispute lingers

The disputed area between Nepal and India (Photo: Kailash Joshi) By: Kailash Joshi | Dhangadi

 A border row triggered two years ago by the construction of a cul­vert in Ananda Bazar in the south-western district of Kan­chanpur remains unresolved. Although a government sur­vey team has been to the area a number of times, the dispute is far from over. As a result, locals have not been able to farm the land.

Govinda Gautam

Hari Adhikari, a local, says that even though they have knocked on the doors of various government bod­ies—local, provincial and federal—there has been no initiative to resolve the dispute. Moreover, India has closed the road, claiming that the area is disputed. So locals are compelled to use an alternate road.

A local says that India wrongly considers a Simal tree near the culvert to be a border pillar

 

Disputed territory

Govinda Gautam lost his life when he was struck by the bul­lets fired by the Indian Sashas­tra Seema Bal (Armed Border Force) in Ananda Bazar on 10 March 2017.

Lok Bahadur Khadka, a local, says that India wrongly considers a Simal tree near the culvert to be a bor­der pillar. “Nepali territory extends 500 meters to the south from that Simal tree,” he claims. Temporary police camps were set up by both Nepal and India after the bor­der row broke out.

 

Promise not fulfilled

It has been two years since the government expressed a commitment to take action against the Indian security personnel accused of shooting Gautam. But it hasn’t even fulfilled various promises it made to Gautam’s family, let alone taken steps to punish the guilty.

Gautam’s family has received Rs 1 million from the government but other promises remain unfulfilled. The government had prom­ised free education for Gau­tam’s daughters and a job for his wife, and various other bodies had promised sundry other things for the family, but none of them have been kept. “All we have received is promises and flowers,” laments Gautam’s father Khem Lal Gautam.

 

Memorial service

A memorial service was held on Sunday, March 10 in Ananda Bazar to mark the third anniversary of Gau­tam’s death. On the occa­sion, Krishna Raj Subedi, Minister for Social Develop­ment in the Far-western pro­vincial government, made an announcement that a statue of Gautam will be con­structed in his memory. Sub­edi remarked that the provin­cial government is ever ready to protect border residents, whom he called “ununiformed border troops”.

Similarly, Tara Lama Tamang, a provincial assembly member and Nepal Commu­nist Party leader, demanded that a martyr park be built in Gautam’s memory.

Jeevan Raj Thapa, the head of the municipality, presented Gautam’s parents with cash and shawls as a token of appreciation. He also pledged an annual sum of Rs 10,000 for each of Gautam’s three daughters.