Smugglers are adopting a new strategy to send out goods across the porous Indo-Nepal border by dodging security personnel -- using women, children and physically handicapped persons as 'carriers'.
"We have identified as many as 300 such carriers which include women, children (in the age group of 7-10 years), aged and physically handicapped people being used by smugglers," Commandant of the Shasastra Seema Bal at Sonauli border, Lalit Kumar told PTI.
"After the SSB came here in 2002, the smugglers have changed their modus operandi and have started using children, women, handicapped and aged persons as carriers," Kumar said.
He said that the items being smuggled from Nepal to India primarily include tobacco, while soaps, shampoo and sugar are smuggled from India to Nepal.
The carriers have now started using cycles to smuggle rice from India to Nepal. Surprisingly, even the physically handicapped persons smuggle rice using their wheelchairs, the official said.
Sources said that on an average in a single day, one carrier can smuggle almost two quintal of rice and get Rs 3 per kg in the process.
In case, the carrier is caught on the border and the goods carried by him are seized, the smugglers show no mercy and make him compensate for the losses, they said.
Asked what action the SSB has taken to curb the smuggling activities on the porous border, the commandant said, "We are teaching children to keep themselves involved in constructive activities...If we catch anyone red-handed, we hand them over to police as we do not have powers to arrest."
The official also claimed that smuggling was going on in the border area in connivance with the local businessmen and politicians.
He said the SSB is running awareness campaign among children and is also roping in prominent people in these programmes.