A Nepalese man was killed when Indian border guards allegedly opened fire following a dispute over the construction of a culvert on Sano Khola river along the frontier with India, local residents said on Thursday.
The Indian embassy in Kathmandu denied any firing by Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel deployed on the Indian side of the border and said there is a need to “maintain calm”.
The incident occurred in Kanchanpur district in southwestern Nepal that borders India’s Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh states.
Govinda Gautam, 20, of Punarbas municipality in Kanchanpur district, was hit by shots allegedly fired by SSB personnel from Sampurnanagar outpost, local residents said. He died while being taken to hospital.
After Gautam’s death, hundreds of people demonstrated outside the hospital where his body was kept. Personnel from Nepal Police and Armed Police Force were deployed in the area to control the situation.
In response to queries from the local media, the Indian embassy said in a statement that “it is categorically denied that there was any incident of firing by Sashastra Seema Bal”.
The SSB, which is under India’s home ministry, is responsible for guarding the India-Nepal border.
A dispute erupted in the area after a border pillar went missing some time ago, and both sides have made claims and counter claims over some pieces of land.
The Nepalese side was building the culvert in an area that is claimed by the Indian side. The situation became tense on Thursday after SSB personnel, who were accompanied by residents of the Indian border town of Basahi, allegedly fired in the air.
Nepalese residents said the SSB personnel contended that digging for the culvert was being done in Indian territory.
The Indian embassy’s statement said there is a “need to maintain calm and let survey officials of both sides discuss the location of border pillars before any construction work is undertaken”. It added that officials had been directed to cooperate to “defuse the situation”.
Manohar Prasad Khanal, the chief district officer of Kanchanpur, told the local media that Nepalese nationals in the border area had been protesting since the morning after Indian authorities objected to the construction of the culvert.
Local residents also accused the SSB personnel of manhandling Nepalese citizens living in the border areas and shutting the border.
The construction of the culvert was started on Wednesday after an agreement was reached by the two sides following a dispute that lasted more than a month.