NEW DELHI

SSB proposes identification documents on Indo-Nepal border

NEW DELHI, MARCH 24. To check infiltration and other subversive activities along the Indo-Nepal border, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) has proposed introduction of identification documents for border crossing, which would work as an access-control mechanism in the "free-visa" regime.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of its Raising Day on March 27, the SSB Director-General, Himanshu Kumar, today said there had been instances of Maoists and Pakistani intelligence agents entering the country taking advantage of the porous border in the past. "Reports suggest that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agents have been active in Nepal for the past one decade, pumping in counterfeit currency and carrying out espionage activities."

Mr. Kumar said these agents were suspected to be active in the Nepalgunj, Kapilavastu, Sunauli and Bardia areas of Nepal and that the SSB was keeping a close watch over their movements. To put a check on infiltration and other trans-border crime, Mr. Kumar said a need for introduction of identification documents for border crossing was being felt. "Ration cards, passports and even driving licenses can be considered for the purpose," he said.

Describing the situation on the Indo-Nepal border as "very sensitive" in the wake of the Royal coup and the subsequent crackdown on Maoists and political activists there, Mr. Kumar, said the force has been put on "very high alert". He said from February onwards, the developments in Nepal had raised serious fears over infiltration by Maoists into the country. "There has been an exodus of some sort of Maoists and Nepalese political activists," he said, adding that the SSB had during this short span of time arrested six Maoists, including four senior functionaries. The SSB recovered two self-loading rifles and an AK-series rifle from their possession.

"Check-posts have been created and regular search operations and patrolling are carried out to stop trans-border crime. As it is a friendly border, people from both sides are free to cross over and therefore, it is only on specific information that we mount raids and make arrests," he said. While the SSB has only 25 battalions of force, it has asked to raise 20 more battalions to properly man the Indo-Nepal and the Indo-Bhutan borders.

The SSB, which was set up in 1963 in the wake of Indo-China conflict as a special border security organisation to instil sense of patriotism and build up confidence among the populace along the border in their government, is entrusted with the task of promoting sense of security among them, preventing trans-border crime and infiltration/ex-filtration and preventing smuggling and other illegal activities.

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