Indo-Bhutan or Indo- Nepal border continuing with tight restriction even in the 4th part of lockdown

Siliguri: The fourth segment ofCoVID19lockdownhas come with certain relaxations at few corners. But restrictions at Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Nepal borders remained as tight as it was. Unique in nature, these two international borders allow citizens of both the sides to move freely without anypassportorvisa.

“Essential items for Nepal only are being allowed to cross the border. But not in the opposite direction. For Bhutan, only few vehicles mutually agreed upon by authorities in both the sides are plying. No human movement in either directions in any of the borders is being allowed. The norms remained same without any major relaxation in the fourth part of lockdown,” said S. Bandopadhyay, Inspector-General, Siliguri frontier, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). The Indian Border guarding force that takes care of these two ‘open’ borders.

Landlocked country Bhutan or Nepal both use Indian territory as their passage to Bangladesh, a major trade partner for both the Himalayan countries. Eventually, this Bangladesh link is also closed now. Indo- Bangladesh border under the watch of BSF is also almost completely closed now.

“Unique administrative nature of these two borders makes it too tough a job to manage them. In addition, large portion of these two run through inhospitable terrain of jungles or high altitude hilly terrain. Naturally keeping them sealed is a big task. But we are following the guidelines and doing our best,” said Bandopadhyay.

Under 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, citizens of both the countries enjoy free passage across the 1,690 km long unfenced border through designated locations. Tens of thousands of people cross the border every day as India is Nepal’s largest trade partner with trade volume of USD 8.2 billion.

On the other side, 699 km long border with Bhutan is also another open border. Though border demarcating pillars are there, but there is no fencing as it is there in Indo-Bangladesh border.

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