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Multiple face-offs between APF, Indian nationals during lockdown



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By Nayak Paudel
Kathmandu, Aug 1: The Armed Police Force had multiple clashes with Indian nationals and smugglers due to the strict restrictions in cross-border movement by the authorities during the lockdown.
Nepalis and Indians have been freely entering either country through the open border since long for different purposes.
However, with the restriction in cross-border movement due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the Indian nationals and smugglers engaged in several clashes with the Armed Police Force (APF) personnel at different border points.
Recently, in the evening of July 24, APF denied entrance to two women while they were trying to enter Nepal via Narkatiya, Rautahat. In response to the denial, a group of Indian nationals gathered and attacked the APF personnel with sickles.
Two officers were injured during the clash, who had to fire a round in air to disperse the crowd.
According to APF officials, the Indian nationals frequently engage in clashes at the border areas since they have been denied entrance following the restrictions in cross-border movement amidst fear of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many Indian nationals have been earning their livelihood in Nepal through farming, working as daily wage labourers or by running some business, among others. With the lockdown imposed, they were unable to enter Nepal and earn their livelihood due to which they try forcefully but get engaged in clash with security personnel,” Deputy Inspector General Raju Aryal, spokesperson for APF, told TRN daily.
While some tried to enter forcefully due to their livelihood issue, APF personnel also got engaged with drunkards, drug abusers and smugglers.
“Nepalis enter India for drugs while Indians enter Nepal for alcohol. People still enter either country amidst restrictions due to the open border,” said Aryal. On July 24, an individual sustained bullet injuries while one APF personnel was injured when a group of more than half a dozen smugglers attacked security officers with bricks and batons in Ghuski, a border area in Sunsari.
The officers had to open fire to take the situation under control during which an individual sustained bullet injuries.
Similarly, on June 15, APF personnel in Belautibari, a border area in Jhapa Gaunpalika, were attacked by a group of more than 30 Indian smugglers.
The group fled from the APF personnel after the security officers tried to detain a couple of Indians smuggling mechanical goods. The smugglers, however, returned with more than 30 other individuals and attacked the APF officers.
“Our responsibility is to secure the border area from unauthorized entry and smuggling. During the course, officers come in dispute with many locals but keep the situation under control. Nevertheless, if the situation turns worse or officers engage with smugglers and criminals, they do respond in self defence,” Aryal added.
As per Aryal, APF has not compromised the government’s decision of restricting cross-border movement in a bid to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. 

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