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SSB under fire for ‘intrusion’
A board showing the map of Illam district on the Darjeeling-IIlam border. A Telegraph picture  

Darjeeling, Jan. 15: Nepal has accused the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which mans the border with the Himalayan country, of encroaching on its territory. Residents of the Illam district of Nepal, too, have been demonstrating against India’s alleged expansionist motive.

Surendra Prasad Dhakal, the chief district officer of Illam, told The Telegraph over the phone: “The SSB camp in Chabbasey (on the Indian side) is using our territory. In at least two other places which fall within a radius of 1km from Chabbasey, the Indian forces have erected gates and temporary structures. Those places are within our territory.”

The residents of Dassh Gaja, a border village in Nepal adjacent to Chabbasey, 45km from here, have been demonstrating against India’s alleged expansion, prompting senior officials from the neighbouring country to visit the area.“An official of the external affairs ministry along with a surveyor visited the disputed place yesterday. They have conducted a survey and a report on the intrusion will soon be prepared in Kathmandu,” said Dhakal.

B.B. Joshi, the deputy inspector-general of the SSB based in Ranidanga, near Siliguri, has refuted the allegations. “We have not encroached upon even an inch of Nepal territory. So far there has been no official complaint on Chabbasey. We are only using the structures set up in 2002 (when the SSB was deployed for the first time to guard the frontiers). I, too, have heard that demonstrations were held but we suspect it was the handiwork of groups which wanted to stoke anti-Indian sentiments.”

This is not the first time that Nepal has accused India of encroaching on their territory. In fact, Nepal media reports said India has encroached upon 59,970 hectares at 54 points in 21 districts.

In the past, both countries had agreed to form the Nepal-India Joint Technical Border Committee to solve the problem. “I joined only three months ago, but I am being told that India is not showing much interest in holding the technical committee’s meeting.” said Dhakal.

Surendra Gupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, said he was not aware of the allegation.

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