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Indian national killed in Nepal

S Bagwan was killed during the crossfire between Maoist guerrillas and security forces.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 11:17 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Nepal on Thursday confirmed the death of an Indian national in a clash between Maoist guerrillas and security forces in the town of Nepalgunj bordering India.

The Indian, identified as Sikandar Bagwan and said to be in his 60s, died after being caught in the crossfire between security forces and rebels Tuesday in the market area of Nepalgunj, southwest of Kathmandu city.

Bagwan was the lone civilian casualty in multiple attacks by guerrillas on Nepalgunj. Three security personnel and four rebels were also killed in the clashes.

The official media Thursday said Bagwan was a resident of Bahraich district in India's Uttar Pradesh state. It was not known if he was a tourist or had come to Nepalgunj on work.

Bagwan is at least the third direct casualty of guerrilla attacks in Nepal since last year.

An Indian driver was killed last year while trying to enter Nepal during a highway blockade by guerrillas, and a young girl died in an explosion caused by them.

The killings revealed a serious lapse in the Indian government's policy towards its nationals visiting Nepal.

Unlike countries like Britain, the US, New Zealand, Canada and others who have issued travel advisories to warn citizens of the dangers of visiting Nepal, the Indian government is yet to come up with any such notification.

Since 2005, when King Gyanendra seized power and stoked fresh unrest, Nepal's tourism industry has been kept going mostly by Indian tourists, who comprise the lion's share of foreign visitors.

Nepal Tourism Board, the key agency for promoting tourism in Nepal, has been wooing Indian travellers and promoting the country as a safe destination.

However, the picture is not accurate with trekkers and mountaineers complaining of being forced to pay a "tourist tax" to Maoists in districts outside the Kathmandu Valley. There have also been complaints of women tourists being raped.

The travel advisory issued by Britain Jan 20, the day Gyanendra imposed a curfew in the capital, mentioned such complaints.

Two European women tourists disappeared from a forest in the valley last year and have not yet been found.

First Published: Jan 27, 2006 11:17 IST