Smuggling of goods from India rampant in Kailali

Dhangadi, October 5

Trinagar Customs Office in Kailali has so far failed to meet its revenue collection target due to smuggling of goods and commodities to Nepal from India.

The customs office failed to meet its target as goods started coming into Nepal through illegal cross-border routes. The custom office met its target by 71.56 per cent in the first month and by 70.76 per cent in second month of the current fiscal.

Custom office chief Yagyamurti Bhandari said the illegal entry of goods into the country could be halted through a joint effort of all concerned agencies.

Smugglers are using porters to carry goods from India to Dhangadi, Attariya, Tikapur, among other border cities of Nepal. Recently, traders and businessmen, too, seemed to be relying on smugglers to import goods to avoid tax.

Even personnel of Nepal police and Armed Police Force are involved in smuggling of goods to Nepal, according to locals. Bhandari admitted that he had failed to mobilise employees from his office and police personnel to stop smuggling of goods to Nepal.

Those involved in the illegal import of goods, however, said they have to pay certain amounts of money to police personnel and custom office staff on a monthly basis.

The trend of smuggling of goods has particularly gone up in this festive season. A long queue of smugglers can be spotted bringing goods to Nepal just across the Trinagar Customs Office at Gokebazaar in India.

Similarly, smugglers are also running go-downs at Bangawa across Dhangadhi in India. Goods stocked in the go-downs reach Nepal via the Gaurikunda and Mohananadighat border points.

The goods mainly comprise hardware materials, electronic devices, automobile spare parts, petroleum products, clothes, cement and food items that are smuggled into Nepal bypassing the sub custom office in Bhajani Municipality.  The smugglers also use border points such as Pathhaghat of Pagiyapasar, Kauwakhedaghat, Maryaghat of Kusumghat, and Jash Bahadur Ghat of Dailekhtol.

District Police Office, Kailali Inspector Puskar Chand said it was a shared responsibility of all to control the illegal import of goods to Nepal. He said his office had deployed three mobile patrol teams to check illegal import of goods. He stressed the need of coordination among the custom office, the APF and the Nepal Police to curb the rising crime.

APF Inspector Harka Saud at Border Security Force refuted the allegation that AFP personnel took ‘commission’ to allow an easy passage to illegal import of goods.

The smuggling of goods to Nepal from India is largely blamed on ineffective operation of the sub custom office in the municipality. Employees and security personnel do not report to duty at the custom office. There is one custom office and seven sub custom offices in Kailali. Bardawar, Bhadari, Bhuiyaphata, Sonaphanta and Kanari sub custom offices closed during the Maoist insurgency are yet to resume their services. Smugglers mainly use these routes to bring goods to Nepal.

Harihar Paudel, an officer at the Department of Customs said a discussion was under way to shut down all these sub custom offices. “Too many custom points means we will have a tough time managing a large number of staffers in those offices,” he added.