India has refused to issue pass for census surveyors traveling to Chhangru and Tinkar of Darchula district to collect details.
India had allowed supervisors to complete listing of households in September but has denied pass to surveyors to go to Chhangru and Tinkar now. The villages are near Kalapani and Lipu Lekh currently encroached by India. The locals in Chhangru and Tinkar have familial relation with people of Kuti, Nabi, Gunji and other areas currently encroached by India.
The two villages in Vyas rural municipality 1 cannot be accessed by road from Nepal and one has to go to India across the Mahakali river to travel by road. Nepalis travelling to Tinkar and Chhangru have to cross a wooden bridge over Mahakali to reach Sitapul which falls along the road constructed recently by India to connect Lipu Lekh. The Seema Surkasha Bal (SSB) asks for pass from those going to India at the bridge.
"We had sought pass thinking that they would issue like they had done earlier for supervisors. Indian security persons do not even allow census posters and other materials across now," Chief of the Census Office in Darchula Padam Raj Pandey told Setopati.
"We had sought pass for one surveyor on November 11 at first. A few staffers from here had also sought pass to visit the place the same day. They issued pass for the tourists but not for surveyor. They made an excuse saying pass cannot be issued now as the road has been damaged."
He added that the Indian side may have become more apprehensive now due to talks about census survey even in Kalapani and Lipu Lekh.
The supervisors had listed 113 households in Tinkar and Chhangru. The surveyors have now left on foot to collect details after India denied pass.
Assistant census officer Khagendra Karki, surveyor Rajendra Karki and office assistant Lokendra Ter left district headquarters Khalanga for the two and a half days trek to Tinkar on Friday morning fearing that they may miss the deadline of November 25 if they wait for India to issue pass.
"They contacted us saying they have reached Dumling Sunday morning. They may reach Chhangru by Monday morning. We cannot contact them over the phone until they reach Chhangru," Pandey said.
Rajendra has returned back after difficulty in walking before the team could reach Dumling. "He could not walk briskly. The friends told him to not go. They have taken a local in place of him to show the way."
The team will have to walk for another four to five hours to reach Tinkar from Chhangru. The team will have to walk for around eight days to reach Tinkar and return back.
Pandey refused to blame India for the hardship faced by the surveyors though. "We have suffered more due to our inability to construct road on our side of the border than refusal by India to issue pass."
The Nepal Army has been handed over the responsibility to open the track for 87-kilometer road connecting Tinkar with district headquarters Khalanga. The NA has started work constructing a temporary base at Ghantibagar.