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Home Explore Security Concerns for India at the Unregulated Indo-Nepal Borders

Security Concerns for India at the Unregulated Indo-Nepal Borders

Published by bkeshav.dav, 2020-07-12 04:15:45

Description: The increasing security threats in the South Asian region, and especially to India has provoked many to ponder upon the faultlines & loopholes in the existing security paradigm of the nation. One of such free faultlines is the open & largely unregulated border between India & Nepal. This paper looks at the major threats & challenges faced by India due to the open border, and also how this open border has been used since decades to harm India. Lastly, the paper concludes with a few possible approaches India & Nepal could take to ensure security & safety in the region, without hampering their age-old relations.

Keywords: India,Nepal,Indo-Nepal,South Asia,Border Security


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Security Concerns for India at the Unregulated Indo-Nepal Borders Author: (Mr.) Keshav Bhardwaj Designation: Student, Political Sciences Affiliation: Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India Contact: [email protected] Paper Status: Draft/Unpublished Draft Date: 12th of July 2020 Page 2 of 15

Abstract The increasing security threats in the South Asian region, and especially to India has provoked many to ponder upon the faultlines & loopholes in the existing security paradigm of the nation. One of such free faultlines is the open & largely unregulated border between India & Nepal. This paper looks at the major threats & challenges faced by India due to the open border, and also how this open border has been used since decades to harm India. Lastly, the paper concludes with a few possible approaches India & Nepal could take to ensure security & safety in the region, without hampering their age-old relations. Introduction India & Nepal, two democracies in the Indian Subcontinent share a uniquely open international border in the region. This open border is powered by the virtue of the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace & Friendship.1 This treaty also includes several other mutual agreements such as equal opportunity for both their nationals in terms of employment, and goes to the extent to allowing both Indians & Nepalese citizens to reside, own property, involve in trade & commerce on each other’s land. Due to various reasons, this open international border is often used for illicit activities and illegal trade. On the Indian side, the mainly unfenced border of around 1,751 kilometers is guarded by the Shashtra Seema Bal (SSB) (English: Armed Border Force) as well as the respective state governments of India that share a border with Nepal. Nepal & India have for centuries shared their religion, culture, and traditions. However, in recent decades, the cross-border crimes have been a menace for both the countries. India, world’s largest democracy, which is multiple times the area of Nepal has a larger stake in the geo-strategic scenario of South Asia. Given its size, population, and geographic location, India also holds much larger responsibility in the South Asian region than any other country. In such situations, various risks on the open, & largely unregulated borders jeopardize, or contribute to jeopardize the law & order situation in India. Page 3 of 15

Prime concerns for Indian authorities include: Human Trafficking (including women, labours, and children), Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), Terrorism, among the 17 cross-borders crimes officially recognized by Nepal.2 Human Trafficking United Nations’ Office on Drugs & Crime defines human trafficking as the act of recruiting, transfering, harbouring, or recieving humans by the means of force, fraud, etc. for its exploitation.3 Nepal, where 42 % of its population lives below the poverty line is often seen as the land of golden opportunities by the traffickers. Lack of employment opportunities, especially after the devastating April 2015 Nepal earthquake, has emerged as the main motive and prime vulnerability for both women and men getting trafficked. This claim is coorobotrated by the fact that of all the human trafficking cases in 2016-17 financial year 64% had false promises of job as their modus-operandi, while the case of fake marriages were 1.6% only.4 With profits estimated around $150-200 Billion annually5, Human Trafficking, also known as Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is one of the most flourishing transnational organized crimes6 in the modern world, reason being the low cost high profit model of the crime. In the South- Asian region, where the profit estimates are around $50 Billion annually, Nepal is witness to highest rates of human trafficking. India being Nepal's open border friend is the largest landing ground of such trafficked persons, mainly for forced labour & marriages, prostituiton, exploitation, etc. in India, and for transit to Middle East countries for almost the same objectives. A recent report by the Shashtra Seema Bal (SSB) explains how a large number of girls & women are trafficked to Middle East countries, primarily for sexual exploitation and forced marriages.7 While there are no specific numbers, various estimates indicate that about 10,000 to 15,000 girls & women are illegally trafficked into India, total number of humans trafficked could be anywhere between 20,000 to 25,000. It is speculated that several lakhs of such trafficked girls are currently in various brothels & red light areas8 of India, primarily involved is sex business9. Page 4 of 15

Men and boys who also get trafficked are primarily engaged in forced labour, both in India, and into Gulf countries, via India. Of the total trafficked survivors in the financial year 2017- 18, nearly 22% were men, while of the total trafficked survivors 24.7% were under 18 years of age.10 Nepali police claim that human trafficking is diminishing over time, however, facts do not favour the claim. The rate of untraced children (Missing children - Recovered children) in Nepal has gone up from 41.2 in 2010-11 to 74.0 in 2016-17.11 In 2018, SSB reported a whopping increase of girls trafficked from Nepal to India by 500% since 2013.12 Due to an open border, it becomes extremely difficult for both Indian & Neapli authorities to distinguish between a genuine traveller & a victim of human trafficking. Since the border is not much regulated, even if the victims are reported missing, it becomes almost impossible to trace them. These prevailing situations pose several threats & challenges for India. It creates a challenging law & order situation for the inadequate police force in India. On a broader note, these activities portray India negatively on international & humanitarian rankings. The situation provides sprouting ground to other criminals & crimes. Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) Indian counterfeit notes are amongst the top ten counterfeited currencies of the world. FICN, or Fake Indian Currency Notes, is one amongst the biggest concerns of both Indian & Nepalese security agencies. However, needless to say that the actual victim & cost-bearer of these fake notes’ smuggling via Nepal is the state of India & Indian economy. This crime racket functions in close collaboration with criminals residing in gulf nations, Pakistan, India & Nepal. Open & loose Nepal borders act as a safe gateway for couriers to supply the fake notes in India.13 Pakistan & Terrorism These fake notes primarily act together with terrorism. The link between terrorim & fake currency can easily be understood by the example of 26/11 Mumbai attacks. During his Page 5 of 15

reconnaissance or recce in Mumbai, David Coleman Haedly (Daood Sayed Gilani) a Pakistani decent’s U.S. citizen, was given sufficient sums by Major Iqbal of the ISI14 in Fake Indian Currency (FICN) to spend during his mission in India.15,16,17 This along with other ways such as funding, hawala18, corruption, etc. help terrorists and their financiers & supporters.19 India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), the agency authorised to investigate ‘High Quality FICN’ cases, and other regional officials have often blamed Pakistan (via ISI) as the main source for these activities.20,21 This has also been proved in various chargesheets filed by the agency on cases relating to FCIN, where one or more Pakistani citizens are always found as sources of the smugglers.22,23 Recently this year, Nepal authorities have arrested six people, which included three Pakistani nationals.24 Similar usage of FICN has often been noticed for terror & anti-India activities. India has often blamed Pakistan as a sovereign state printing fake notes as a medium of economic warfare against India.25 Generally, the end user of these notes are third parties, who don’t have any idea about them being fake or illegal. Such usage helps the perpetrators, to reduce their actual expenditure, and hence making hurting India much easier. These FICN, when involved in the economy acts as a diluter for the economy, which results in problems such as inflation, devaluation of currency, etc. Terrorism At first thought, most Indians will not be able to relate Nepal with terrorism in any manner, and probably have the notion that terrorist threat to India is only from Pakistan. It is true that the major terrorist threat to India is of the state sponsored terrorism by Pakistan, however, it shall be imperative for us to know that Nepal acts as an important bridge between Pakistan’s terrorists & Indian soil. A recent report26 by the US State Department outlines how the porous border between India & Nepal is used by various Pakistan based terrorist groups to carry attacks against India. The enthusiastic use of Nepali soil for anti-India activities by both Pakistan based terrorist groups & its ISI can be explained by looking at a list of recent arrests & warnings carried out by Indian agencies.27 Page 6 of 15

In a recent reference28 recruiters of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba recceed various Indian cities including Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Darbhanga, Faizabad, etc. in search of new recruits, for strengthening the sleeper cell network in Bihar & Uttar Pradesh. These newly inducted terrorists would then carry on independently organized attacks in further parts of India. In this case the recruiters, led by LeT operative Umer Madani entered India via Nepal. Madani was aided by cells of LeT in Nepal. A more recent example could be the letter forwarded to the Union Home Ministry by the Bihar’s Home Secretary, apprising the former about the possible infiltration of around 200 Covid-19 positive Indians who landed in Nepal from Gulf countries & Pakistan were ready to cross the border.29 The SSB’s intelligence input30 named one Jalim Mukhiya, a Nepalese citizen involved in FICN & Arms smuggling was incharged with this job. He couldn’t succeed due to timely responses by Indian agencies, however, this is not always the case. Islamic State - Khorasan (ISIS-K) ISIS-K is the Asian branch of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) which primarily deals with South Asia. In May 2019, ISIS-K announced it’s ‘Pakistan Province’, & ‘India Province’, meaning that they aim to usurp control over these two states next31. A pro ISIS cell (al-Qitaa) released a magazine for Indians by the name ‘Sawt al Hind’ (Voice of India), with its first issue released in February 2020.32 These events affix the growing threat of Islamic State’s terrorism in India. Nepal & Bangladesh, are two easy routes for the fighters (as they identify themselves) of ISIS-K to enter India, or support the attacks in India from their respective bases Provided Nepal’s easy access for Indians & vice versa, terrorists use the country with poor intelligence & security apparatus33 for logistics, arms & ammunition, and training. In January this year, Delhi Police’s special cell arrested three alleged operatives of ISIS, all being the residents of Tamil Nadu, had visited & stayed in Nepal, where they met their foreigner handler in his base.34 Page 7 of 15

Left Wing Extremists (Maoists) Nepal is not much unfamiliar with the left wing extremism a.k.a Maoism. Most easily memorable to all would be the civil war in Nepal from 1996 to 2006, also known as Maowadi Dwandkaal (Maoist Conflict Period). The civil war that accounted for at least 15,000 deaths was primarily fueled by Communist Party of Nepal Maoist (CPN-M) & its leader Baburam Bhattarai who happens to be an alumnus of the JNU India & Pushpa Kamal Dahal35 better known as Prachand. The links of Maoist leaders of Nepal goes way beyond than their formal education in Indian Universities, it extends to guerilla training in plains of Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, and in Madhesi plains of Nepal.36,37 Maoist Communist Centre of India (MCCI) which along with People’s War Group (PWG-I) merged in 2004 to form Communist Party of India Maoist (CPI-M). Of these two groups, MCC-I has been most connected with it’s Nepali counterpart CPM-N.38 Currently, CPI-M is a proscribed insurgent organization by the Government of India. Various reports indicated that CPI-M has been in close support for the CPN-M, both ideologically & logistically.39 This support has always posed a threat40 for India, especially the regions bordering Nepal. During the Nepali insurgency period, it was very common for these insurgencies to spill41 over in parts of Bihar & Jharkhand, even today fragments of maoist attacks could be traced in the Indo-Nepal border areas.42 Similar usages were reported in the 2000’s when ULFA and other separatist proscribed organizations of the North-East were using Nepal as their base for operations.43 Nepal’s poor security apparatus has enabled almost all major terrorist groups to have at least one base in Nepal which they use for various purposes44 against India. These groups & their bases pose constant threats to the security & public order situation in India. Page 8 of 15

Other Crimes & Criminals Use of Nepal as a safe haven by criminals should not be unknown to anyone. Most-Wanted, and even lower grade criminals have been using Nepal as their safe haven since decades. This has been a well learnt phenomena that the first suspect for any criminal gone untraceable is Nepal, especially from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, etc. Similar usages have been reported over the past years for smuggling of both contraband45 & non-contraband items as well.46,47,48,49 Like most other cases, after criminals reach Nepal, Nepal is used as a transit state to ultimately go to any part of the world. Even if the criminal stays put in the region, it becomes extremely difficult for Indian agencies to get hold of the person, for both physical & diplomatic reasons. Conclusion While it is important to not ignore or downplay the centuries old cultural, religious, and social ties that India & Nepal foster, it would be equally important for India and even Nepal to look for alternatives to the current open, & unregulated borders. Alternatives could be anything from a combination of more efficient border security, strengthened border check- points, and further mechanisms to trace & nab criminals once they cross borders, both in India & Nepal. Nepal on its side, should ensure that its ground should never be used as a base for anti-India activities, as those bases are essentially threats to Nepal as well. Lastly, In the growing context of the security threats faced by the region, and India in specific, India can not afford to let a close friend’s ground be used for activities that hurt her. *** Page 9 of 15

Notes/References 1. The 1950 TREATY OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN INDIA AND NEPAL is an active bilateral treaty signed on 31st of July 1950 between India & Nepal. 2. ANI. (2013, August 30). Nepal identifies 17 cross-border crimes on border with India. Business Standard. cross-border-crimes-on-border-with-india-113083000504_1.html 3. United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime. (n.d.). What is Human Trafficking? United Nations : Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved July 6, 2020, from 4. National Human Rights Commission. (2018, September). TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN NEPAL National Report (Report No. 234). National Human Rights Commission, Hariharbhawan, Lalitpur. 5. UN Office on Drugs & Crime. (2018, March). Foreword: STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES TO COUNTER CROSS BORDER TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: INDIA- NEPAL. Nepal-Bangladesh/indo_nepal_20_March_18.pdf 6. Transnational Organized Crimes are serious crimes across international borders which involve groups of three or more persons, and the prime motive for these crimes is financial or material benefit. 7. Sashastra Seema Bal, MHA, Government of India. (2020). HUMAN TRAFFICKING A VISION DOCUMENT. Sashastra Seema Bal. %20Vision%20Docs8740ab3e-2462-42ea-9a64-adf9cedca5e8.pdf 8. Red Light Areas are locations within cities where prostitution, and other sex-oriented businessses flourish. 9. Sanghera, Dr. J., & Kapur, Ms. R. (2ooo-12). TRAFFICKING IN NEPAL: POLICY ANALYSIS . The Asia Foundation. 10. National Human Rights Commission. (2018, September). TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN NEPAL National Report (No. 234). National Human Rights Commission, Hariharbhawan, Lalitpur. 11. National Human Rights Commission. (2018, September). TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN NEPAL National Report (Report No. 234). National Human Rights Commission, Hariharbhawan, Lalitpur. 12. Chauhan, N. (2018a, March 31). Nepal girls trafficked into India up by 500% in last 5 years: SSB report. The Times of India. trafficked-into-india-up-by-500-in-last-5-years-ssb-report/articleshow/63551720.cms 13. Shashikumar, V. (2008). Indian Defence Review. Nepal: Export of Fake Currency, 23(4), 19–30. 14. ISI is Pakistan's official intelligence agency. Abbreviated for Inter Services Intelligence. 15. Allchin, J. (2019). Many Rivers, One Sea: Bangladesh and the Challenge of Islamist Militancy: Vol. Chapter 5 : A Dysfunctional Neighbourhood. Penguin Random House. 16. PTI. (2012, September 4). David Coleman Headley was given fake currency notes to use in India: Govt. The Economic Times. and-nation/david-coleman-headley-was-given-fake-currency-notes-to-use-in-india-govt/ articleshow/16249839.cms Page 10 of 15

17. National Investigation Agency India. (2011, December 24). NIA Chargesheet Case No. RC-04/2009/NIA/DLI. National Investigation Agency. Portal/CasesPdfDoc/Charge_Sheet_04-20091-1.pdf 18. Hawala is an illicit and informal way of moving money, without physically moving it. 19. Financial Action Task Force . (2013, June). FATF Report: Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Related to Counterfeiting of Currency. financing-related-to-counterfeit-currency.pdf 20. Sharma, K. (2013, November 6). Pakistan prints fake Indian rupees: NIA finds counterfeit cash made from same paper as Pakistan’s legal tender. Mail Online. Indian-rupees-NIA-finds-counterfeit-cash-paper-Pakistans-legal-tender.html 21. Mishra, D. (2008, December 22). Fake currency menace on the rise. The Times of India. articleshow/3870868.cms 22. National Investigation Agency, India. (2017). National Investigation Agency RC- 08/2016/NIA/DLI Main Chargesheet & Supplementary Chargesheet . NIA, India. 23. National Investigation Agency. (2017, July 24). NIA RC-02/2017/NIA/DLI Chargesheet. NIA, India. 1.pdf 24. Team, D. W. (2019, May 25). Nepal Police arrests Dawood aide Yunus Ansari, fake Indian currency worth Rs 7.5 cr seized. DNA India. nepal-police-arrests-dawood-aide-yunus-ansari-fake-indian-currency-worth-rs-75-cr-seized- 2753473 25. Financial Action Task Force . (2013, June). FATF Report: Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Related to Counterfeiting of Currency. financing-related-to-counterfeit-currency.pdf 26. BUREAU OF COUNTERTERRORISM. (2018). Country Reports on Terrorism 2018. US Department of State. 27. Staff, F. P. (2019, November 7). Nepal emerges biggest hub for Indian Mujahideen, say..porous border makes India vulnerable to terror attacks. Firstpost. report-porous-border-makes-india-vulnerable-to-terror-attacks-7616161.html 28. Munshi, S. (2019a, September 12). LeT Recruiter Conducted Recce in Varanasi in May as PM’s Constituency Prepared for Lok Sabha Polls: Repor... News18. pms-constituency-prepared-for-lok-sabha-polls-report-2306779.html 29. Asia News. (2020, April 10). COVID-19 positive patients may come from Pakistan to India via Nepal: Alerts Bihar police. patients-may-come-from-pakistan-to-india-via-nepal-alerts-bihar-police/ 30. News18 Hindi. (2020, April 10). (Hindi) भारत में कोरोना फै लाने की साजिश रच रहा “जालिम”, SSB ने प. चं पारण के डीएम-एसपी को भेजा अलर्ट. News18 India. west-champaran-a-man-who-is-sitting-in-nepal-plotting-to-spread-corona-in-india-ssb-alerts-dm-sp-of- west-champaran-brvj-3002344.html Page 11 of 15

31. Postings, R. (2019a, May 15). ISIS announces new India and Pakistan provinces, casually breaking up Khorasan. The Defense Post. 32. New issue of the magazine: “Ṣawt al-al-Hind #1.” (2020, February 24). Jihadology.Net. 33. Terror suspects arrested in India say they were using Nepal as a base but security agencies are clueless. (2020, January 30). The Kathmandu Post. were-using-nepal-as-a-base-but-security-agencies-are-clueless 34. Jha, L. (2020, January 5). 2 ISIS terrorists entered Uttar Pradesh via Nepal; high alerts issued in several districts. Zee News. entered-uttar-pradesh-via-nepal-high-alerts-issued-in-several-districts-2255674.html 35. Pushpa Kamal Dahal is currently in a coalition government in Nepal & is the de-facto ‘to-be PM of Nepal’. 36. External Links: Nepal Terrorist Groups - Maoist Insurgents. (n.d.). South Asian Terrorism Portal. Retrieved July 07, 2020, from 37. Hossain, S. (2006). MAOIST PEOPLE’S WAR IN NEPAL: ISSUES AND CONCERNS. Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies Journal, 27(1), 52. 38. Gupta, R. K. (2004). The Crimson Agenda. Wordsmiths pp 45. 39. Ramana, P. V. (2010, November 9). Linkages between Indian and Nepalese Maoists | Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA). 40. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, International Herald Tribune. (2002, June 6). Maoists up in arms : A danger for India in Nepal. The New York Times. in-nepal.html 41. Jha, S. K. (2003, March 15). MCC and Maoists: Expanding Naxal Violence in Bihar. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. 42. PTI. (2020). Encounter: Four Maoists Killed in Bihar Close to Indo-Nepal Border. The Wire. 43. IANS. (2007, June 6). Nepal is the new base for ULFA guerrillas. DNA India. 44. IANS. (2017, November 28). LeT terrorist wanted for 26/11 Mumbai attacks held in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi. Firstpost. 2611-mumbai-attacks-held-in-uttar-pradeshs-varanasi-4232471.html 45. A contraband item is such which is illegal to be exported without an official permission. 46. New on Nepal border: Smuggling of rice - india. (2008, June 7). Hindustan Times. MDSP7qynCYiHOwWM4ELZ2O.html 47. Statesman News Service. (2019, January 1). Indo-Nepal border a hotbed of artefact smuggling, forces on alert. THE STATESMAN. smuggling-1502721173.html Page 12 of 15

48. Das, S. (2017, May 15). Nepal border turns hub of drug smuggling. Livemint. drug-smuggling.html 49. Madhwal, A. (2017, December 4). Goods being smuggled from Nepal into Uttarakhand using river route. Hindustan Times. smuggled-from-nepal-into-uttarakhand-using-river-route/story- jVIkU36rg9jrqgeX2sKonK.html Page 13 of 15

Image Credits 1. Cover Image: /fjwynne 2. Human Trafficking: USER DEACTIVATED 3. Fake Indian Currency Notes: /rupixen 4. Terrorism & Insurgency: RAND Coproration Page 14 of 15

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