One person was killed and two were injured in a firing on Friday allegedly by the Nepal police on the Indo-Nepal border in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district.
The deceased, Vikesh Kumar Rai, 25, and the injured, Umesh Ram and Uday Thakur, are Indian nationals.
One Lagan Rai is said to have been detained by the Nepal police.
Locals said the firing took place after a clash between some people working in their agricultural field at the Lalbandi-Janki Nagar border in Pipra Parsain panchayat under the Sonebarsha police station of the district. Rai died on the spot, they stated.
Sitamarhi Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar told The Hindu over phone, “In the firing incident, one person was killed and the injured are out of danger... they have been admitted to a private hospital”.
Mr. Kumar denied that the incident had anything related to the recent border tension between India and Nepal.
Inspector General of Bihar sector of the Sashastra Seema Bal Sanjay Kumar said, “The incident took place between locals and the armed police force of Nepal… one person was killed, while two were injured in the firing by the Nepal police”. The SSB was not involved in the issue, he added.
Senior police and SSB officials are camping at the spot.
Jitendra Kumar, Additional Director General of Police (headquarters) has confirmed the incident.
The victim’s father, Nageshwar Rai, told local journalists that his agriculture land fell under Narayanpur in Nepal where his son was working.
Nepal shares a 1,850-km open border with India and people travel across for work and make family visits. Most of the Indians living in the bordering districts of Bihar are married on the other part of the border in Nepal.
Nepal closed its international borders on March 22 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nepalese sources said there have been several skirmishes in the area in the past few months and cautioned about simmering tension on southern border of Nepal with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The incident came a day after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli described the “southern border” of Nepal as the “real reason” for Nepal's vulnerabilities. In his speech in the Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday, he described the approximately 1800-km border as responsible for many problems, including COVID-19, that are facing Nepal.
His government has pledged to build around 500 new security outposts across the border region. In May, Nepal erected a new border security post in its westernmost district near Kalapani of Uttarakhand after the controversy broke out on May 8 when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Darchula-Lipulekh link road that runs in the disputed region.
Mr. Oli told Parliament that there were other issues on the border like the Susta on the U.P.-Bihar side, but Nepal has taken up the Kalapani issue first. The firing at Sitamarhi is particularly significant as it indicates a heating up of sentiments in the otherwise calm international border of India.
The India-Nepal border, especially in U.P. and Bihar, is considered to be settled except the river enclave of Susta, but new issues involving rivers, and population may come up if the Oli government’s planned 500 new border posts are to be erected in the area. The Bihar-U.P. border has been blamed in recent years for being responsible for demographic changes in Nepal as sections in Kathmandu's ruling class believe that Indian traders and labourers have been entering the Himalayan country unchecked over the last few decades.
Bihar has around 601 km of border with Nepal and U.P. shares 651 km of the same. Uttarakhand, Sikkim and West Bengal share the rest of the Indo-Nepal border. Mr Oli's government has told Parliament that his government will work towards more effective management of the “southern” border.
( With inputs from Kallol Bhattacherjee in New Delhi)