While the mainstream media and common people and politicians are busy obsessing with the Bhutanese refugees scam, there is terror in some districts of the Tarai where ordinary people of the border area suffer, but smugglers are encouraged.

Amidst the financial crisis and people struggling for daily wages, people of the Tarai are terrified by the activities of chief district officers, Armed Police Force and Police.

Many people of Tarai region, especially those residing close to the Indo-Nepal border have been complaining about the activities of police, armed police force and the negligence of the chiefs of districts.

There are eight districts in the Madhes and all the districts are linked with the India border and ordinary people's lives depend on their shopping in Indian border towns. But taking advantage of the situation, the cops are looting the general public while smugglers and traffickers have been enjoying the freedom to engage in criminal activities.

Recently, a video shared by Shambhu Pandit went viral.

That video showed police stopping a woman and asking for bribe to let her take through the border some goods worth a few thousand rupees that she had bought.

A woman in Tribhuwan of Sarlahi district which is on the border close to Sonbarsha of India was begging, touching the policeman's feet saying, "Please let me go, you are like my son, I have shopped for the household and for my daughters."

But the police did not let her go.

Pandit, a local resident of Bhelhi Ward No 3 of Sarlahi said, "Most cops on the border look for bribes and that is all they want. If you pay them you can smuggle, if not then you have to struggle to pass through the border with even a few thousand worth of goods you have bought."

He also said that, "all tiers of government must take strict action to solve the issues of locals and punish the perpetrators."

According to Chandra Kishore a Madhes-based political columnist, the CDO, the head of the District Administration Office, can exercise power related to security and even investigation. But this officer appears to be negligent, as a result, the locals are face multiple challenges.

"Due to the large number of security personnel on the border, daily wagers are confronted with problems.

However, smugglers have found a new way to carry on illegal trade by establishing syndicates with the CDO, Armed Police Force and Police," said Chandra Kishore, adding,"Because of the syndicate they are able to hide information and activities related to illegal trade. On the other hand, innocent locals are stopped, checked, and harassed, while smugglers easily carry on with their illegal trade from other routes along the border."

He also said, "Earlier, it used to be done through headquarters but increased road connectivity has provided them other routes. Besides, police personnel's are paid a huge amount on a monthly basis enabling them to continue their illegal trade."

Locals complain about such activities as these have impacted their life negatively, but the local levels have shown no interest in raising these issues.

Locals are demanding establishment of some mutual understanding between authorities on both sides so that they can do their daily shopping without any hassles.

According to Ram Joshi Shah (a resident of Brhampuri Rural Municipality, Sarlahi) the cops have terrified the locals. They seek bribe for petty shopping, while big sharks escape.

He said, "People of the border area are aware of their activities but they are compelled to zip their mouths." He also said that Indian border cops do not terrify them as much as Nepali cops do.

Those shopping for daily essentials are harassed, but smugglers get away easily

A version of this article appears in the print on May 22, 2023, of The Himalayan Times.