India-Nepal border: The last frontier to fall to the extremists’ menace

Soroor Ahmed*


Yet another international boundary in the sub-continent––certainly the last one––has turned into the hotspot. The March 31 attack on the police station and the branch of Central Bank of India in Riga under Sitamarhi district of Bihar is certainly not the first such incident to take place on the southern side of the international border. Some two years back a similar operation in Madhuban in East Champaran led to the killing of about two dozen people, including Maoists. Many big and small incidents followed on both sides of the border.

But the latest attack is somewhat different as it almost coincided with the induction of five Maoists in the cabinet of Girija Prasad Koirala. In fact they became ministers within 24 hours of the attack in Riga. It is to be seen whether the induction of Maoists, for the first time, will have a salutary impact or it will further deteriorate the situation. The Maoists ascendancy to power in Nepal was preceded by a large scale violence, which led to the killing of hundreds of civilians and soldiers.

But that is now history. The Maoists are now in the saddle and King Gyanendra has certainly been cut to size. The Himalayan Kingdom is no more a Hindu state.

But the headache for India is not over. Madhesis, people of Indian origin, are now locked in a grim battle with Maoists as the latter never trusted them. Madhesis are accused of being pro-monarchy. Thus in no time the situation has turned worst. In a clash between Madhesis and Maoists, about 30 people, mostly Maoists, lost their lives in Gaur Bazar in Nepal––across Sitamarhi district of north Bihar.

To dismiss the Maoists attack in Riga on March 31 as a small incident as it caused the death of only one State Auxiliary Police personnel would amount to the over-simplification of the fact. There is no denying the fact that the police, in spite of high alert, could not get any idea of the assemblage of hundreds of Maoists in this township. Nor could it kill or arrest any one in the entire operation.

The situation in Nepal needs to be assessed with a different angle too. Thanks to different extremist and secessionist groups India’s western, northern and north-eastern frontiers have always been in turmoil. The border with Bangladesh has always been in news for all the wrong reasons. Since late 1980s even the southern coast of the country is not safe. The Liberation Tiger of Tamil Elam emerged as a first foreign terrorist group to kill the former Prime Minister of the country, Rajiv Gandhi. This notwithstanding the fact that India in the beginning supported its struggle in Sri Lanka.

The border with Nepal had always been relatively free from any big incident. The Naxalite uprising in late 1960s and early 1970s saw some activities on the border as the Left extremists then used to seek both arms and inspiration from China.

But in the last couple of years things have taken a U-turn. Till a few years back we never needed any security forces on the international border though smuggling of goods was quite rampant. Nepal never posed a political threat to India’s bordering area.

Today strange bedfellows are in power in Nepal. The democrats, under Nepali Congress, and Maoists, have joined hands. While the democrats sought inspiration from India, the Maoists, as the very name suggests, take material as well as ideological help from across Himalaya––China. Ironically, there are only a few buyers of Maoism in China now.

The Lhasa-Kathmandu Highway played a key role in flooding Nepal with the ideological literature, arms and ammunition, and other things. But never did Nepal influenced the politics in China or Tibet.

On the other hand roads from Kathmandu to India––both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh––are known for two-way ‘political’ traffic. If Indian politics influenced its northern border the developments in Nepal too have its impact here. Extremism on the border flourishes only when there exists sympathy for that cause on both the sides. After all the attack on Riga was carried out by the Indian Maoists, who have joined hands with their comrades across the frontier.

(*The author is Patna-based freelance journalist).




India Business Directory






The Advertising Network