Sitamarhi incident latest in series of clashes between villagers and Nepal police

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Written by Santosh Singh | Updated: June 14, 2020 1:38:48 am

Grieving relatives of the victim in Sitamarhi. (Express photo: Sanjay Kumar)

In the last two months, there have been at least eight incidents of altercation between the Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) and civilians on the Indian side in Bihar’s border districts of Sitamarhi, East Champaran, Madhubani and Kishanganj.

Even on Friday, when firing by the APF killed a villager in Janaki Nagar in Sitamarhi, a police officer had brokered peace following a clash in East Champaran. Wednesday had seen a clash at a spot barely 1.5 km from the Janaki Nagar incident.

The clashes come amidst rising India-Nepal tension over some border areas.

The APF on Saturday morning handed over the Janaki Nagar villager whose capture had led to a clash and firing on Friday, leading to the death of another villager, 23-year-old Vikash Rai, and injuries to two.

On Wednesday, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) had stepped in to resolve matters after the APF beat up a resident in Lalbandi near Janaki Nagar. Thursday had seen stone-pelting between residents of two villagers on either side of the border after a Chandraman resident was allegedly beaten up by the APF in no-man’s land a few days previously.

Friday’s incident in East Champaran was resolved after Mahuawa Police Station in-charge Uday Singh stepped in following a clash between the residents of Sanphulwa village in Nepal and Chandraman on the Indian side.

Last month, on May 7, the APF deployed in Bara district of Nepal had opened fire to stop residents of Navgachhia village in Mahuawa, who wanted to access their fields on the other side. No one was injured in the incident, and the tension finally abated after senior authorities from both sides intervened.

May 16 night had seen another incident of firing along the Indo-Nepal border, in Kishanganj’s Karuamani panchayat area. A meeting was held to resolve the matter.

The next day, a Raxual villager had been fired upon by the APF following an argument. The villager had reportedly crossed the border to collect an LPG cylinder.

Authorities on the Indian side have said the Sitamarhi firing on Friday too was a case of local misunderstanding, and not linked to the border row.

Amidst mourning over Vikesh, who leaves behind a pregnant wife, villagers of Janaki Nagar Saturday accused the SSB of not doing anything to prevent the incident, despite being posted nearby.

Ram Lagan Rai, who was handed over to the Sitamarhi administration by the Nepali authorities following high-level intervention, showed his ribs and waist to say he was beaten by the APF personnel while in custody.

Asking how he was at fault, Ram Lagan said, “My wife and daughter-in-law are from Nepal. They had gone to meet their parents after permission from the APF. It urged them to conclude the meeting in 5-10 minutes. As my son Shatrughan resisted, he was slapped by an APF jawan.”

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