COVID-19: Vigil tightened along Indo-Nepal border in Bihar amid fears of infiltration

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Updated: Apr 11, 2020 11:54 AM

Following imposition of the lockdown, the state's borders with Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal have been sealed with a view of preventing outsiders from entering Bihar.

Representational pic.

Vigil has been tightened along the India-Nepal border in Bihar following intelligence inputs about around 50 people infected with coronavirus planning to sneak into the country, amid the lockdown, officials said on Friday.

Following imposition of the lockdown, the state’s borders with Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal have been sealed with a view of preventing outsiders from entering Bihar.

Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey said, “All police personnel deployed along the borders and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) have been put on high alert. There have been no reports of any infiltration through the India-Nepal border ever since the restrictions came into force. We will ensure that nobody is allowed to cross the borders.”

Notably, screenshots of a letter purportedly written by a senior official of West Champaran and addressed to senior officers of the police and administration went viral on the social media during the day.

Dated April 7, the letter stated that 40-50 people have crossed over to India and referred to a Nepalese national, involved in illegal arms trade and fake currency notes, planning a conspiracy to “spread coronavirus in India”.

The letter claimed that inputs to the effect were received from the SSB. Neither the district magistrate nor the superintendent of police agreed to comment further about the letter.

Talking to PTI over phone, a senior SSB official did not confirm that the aforementioned input was provided to the district officials by the paramilitary force, but said, “We do keep receiving intelligence inputs in plenty since we guard the borders. A few of these turn out to be true, many others turn out to be hoax. It is, however, our duty to pass on whatever information we have to the civil administration concerned.”

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Amir Subhani, however, asserted that the SSB inputs hinted at “a possibility” of infiltration through the borders.

“But we are maintaining a strict vigil. Police are on alert and working in close cooperation with the SSB. The Union Home Ministry has also been kept in the loop,” Subhani said.

Bihar shares a long, porous border with Nepal that runs through more than half a dozen districts of the state.

There have been apprehensions that many attendees of Delhi’s Tablighi Jamaat congregation, blamed for a significant proportion of COVID-19 cases across the country, had visited Bihar and some might have travelled farther to Nepal.

Many of the Tablighi Jamaat event participants, both Indians as well as foreign nationals, have been tracked down by the police within the state. All of them have been placed in quarantine though none of them has so far tested positive for the dreaded coronavirus.

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