The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Turmoil in Nepal puts neighbour on alert

Calcutta, Sept. 2: A day after rioters protesting against the killing of 12 Nepalis by an Iraqi militant group went on the rampage in the Himalayan kingdom, the state government issued an alert “to maintain a tight vigil along the Bengal-Nepal border”.

“The situation in Nepal is disturbing,” chief secretary Asok Gupta said. “We don’t want (an) adverse fallout on our state. We are not taking chances and we cannot sit idle... We have to be prepared for any eventuality.”

Yesterday, a mosque was damaged in Kathmandu and Muslim establishments were attacked.

Gupta said: “The general administration has been put on alert and the districts bordering Nepal, especially Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, have been instructed to ensure that no untoward incident takes place on our side... Any trouble will have to be nipped in the bud.”

Home secretary Amit Kiran Deb said: “The government is doing all it can to gear up the intelligence network...The idea is to find out whether efforts are on to spread the communal virus to our side.”

Describing the situation in Nepal as “alarming”, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee yesterday said his government had asked the Centre for deployment of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) along the Nepal border to ensure trouble did not spill over.

Emphasising that the Special Services Bureau (SSB) “was not enough for the task”, Bhattacharjee said he had spoken to defence minister Pranab Mukherjee and home minister Shivraj Patil about it. At present, a company of the state armed police is manning the border along with the SSB.

Today, Gupta reiterated the concern, saying: “The state government has told the Centre that SSB personnel must be replaced with ITBP on 22 outposts, as the latter are better trained for the job. The SSB may not be up to it now. We will take whatever measures are required keeping an eye on the development, but we will also seek Central assistance, if required.”

“This is a matter relating to a foreign country so, as and when required, we shall seek Delhi’s advice,” Gupta said. “So far, they have not communicated to us anything specific in this regard.”

The government is also worried about an influx of refugees from Nepal. “In a situation such as this, people from neighbouring countries usually cross the border. But no large-scale infiltration has taken place yet,” Gupta said. But he did not rule out the possibility.

“We are keeping a constant vigil, especially in areas such as Pashupatibajar, Kokrahat and Panitanki,” inspector-general (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said. “We have spoken to the SPs (superintendents of police) and DMs (district magistrates).”

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