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Border & biodiversity in focus after escape
Nepal’s entry policy under scanner

Darjeeling, Oct. 29: The escape of the Czech forester from Darjeeling has raised serious security concerns in the region especially in the light of Nepal’s lenient immigration policy and the largely porous border that it shares with India.

Emil Kucera, who had been awarded a three-year imprisonment for illegally collecting beetles and other insects from Singalila National Park, had purportedly told Czech Television that he had fled through Nepal.

The district administration is reluctant to speak about the escape. “So far, we have not received any official report (on Kucera fleeing Darjeeling). Until I get it, I do not want to make any comments,” said Surendra Gupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.

Intelligence sources, however, said the security issue has to be addressed at the highest level with Nepal. The problems they believe lie in the fact that foreigners do not need visas to visit Nepal. They only have to get the passports stamped while entering the Himalayan Kingdom.

Kucera entered Nepal with a passport sent to him by his girlfriend from his country, The Czech Republic. The Telegraph had earlier reported that Kucera had used three passports to visit India five times between 1999 and 2008. Only one of them — No 35667512 — had been seized and it is now with the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Darjeeling.

The forest department has decided to write to “competent authorities” to seek Kucera’s whereabouts.

“We have been following the media reports and will write to the competent authorities,” said S. Ghatak, the divisional forest officer (Wildlife 1).

The forest report could trigger a formal investigation regarding Kucera’s escape, throwing up possibilities of addressing issues like the security along the Indo-Nepal border.

Rahul Srivastava, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling, said: “Once we receive the letter from the forest department, we will take up the case. We will definitely look into every detail like checking the hotels he stayed at.”

The police may take the help of the district intelligence branch.

Taranga Pandit, the defence lawyer of the Czechs, said Petr Svacha’s passport would be handed over on October 31. Svacha, an entomologist, had been arrested with Kucera. He, too, was convicted but was let off with a fine of Rs 20,000.

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