10 Nepalis detained in Darjeeling

Kathmandu, February 19

Indian authorities have detained 10 Nepali youths from Kalpokhari, Darjeeling, for flying drone ‘without proper documents and valid licence’. The chief judicial magistrate’s court in Darjeeling yesterday remanded the youths to judicial custody for a week.

India’s Sashastra Seema Bal personnel in Kalpokhari arrested the Nepali nationals on Sunday after they found a drone hovering over Indian territory.

The SSB then submitted a written complaint to Darjeeling Police, stating that Nepali youths were flying drone above the international border near Pillar No 58/3 and 58/4 without proper documents and valid licence, according to a statement issued by Darjeeling Police yesterday.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Pankaj Prasad told THT over phone from Darjeeling that the case had now been handed over to the forest department, since the arrests were made from an area under the ambit of the Singalila National Park.

“Since the youths also entered the national park area without acquiring prior permission, the case comes under the jurisdiction of the forest department and Wildlife Act,” Prasad said.

Divisional Forest Officer Jiju Jaesper told THT over phone from Darjeeling that the forest department would carry out an investigation after which they would ascertain charges to frame the youths.

However, the Indian authorities have yet to inform the Nepali Consulate General in Kolkata or the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi about the arrests.

Divisional Forest Officer Jaesper said since police forwarded the case to his department, they must have informed the Nepali mission.

However, Darjeeling Superintendent of Police Amarnath K told THT over phone that since the case had been forwarded to the forest department, the latter should have done the needful.

Nepal’s Consul General in Kolkata Eaknarayan Aryal told THT over phone from Kolkata that the Indian authorities had not informed them about the arrests. “Since Darjeeling comes under the jurisdiction of this consulate, they should have informed us like they have done before in such incidents,” he said.

Officials of the Nepali embassy in New Delhi said they had not yet been informed about the incident.

According to  Darjeeling Police statement, those arrested are Bigyan Gautam, 29, Biswas Ghimire, 25, of Arjun Dhara, Jhapa;  Nishchal Karki, 23, of Garamani, Jhapa; Devindra Sitoula, 28, Kamal Subedi, 23, Dipan Goutam, 23, Animesh Bhattarai, 24, of Birtamod, Jhapa;  Samay Rijal, 26, of Sitapaila, Kathmandu; Krishna Sapkota, 24, of Bharatpur, Chitwan and Subodh Tripati, 23, of Dhading.

The authorities also seized a remote-controlled drone (DJI Mavic Pro), a remote controller, a memory card (16 GB) and Realme-3 Pro smartphone, the statement said.

The accused have been booked for endangering life, showing negligence while using machinery, wilfully flying a drone in such a way that it may cause danger to any person (Section 11/11 of Aircraft Act-1934) and under sections of the Wildlife Act, according to a report published by The Telegraph.

The Nepali youths also violated guidelines and notification of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which makes it mandatory for all aerial vehicles, including drones, to be registered with the digital sky portal. Besides, they must have permits also, the report adds.

During interrogation, the accused confessed that they ‘used the drone inside Indian territory’, The Telegraph quoted a police official as saying.