Smugglers using Kimathanka border point in Sankhuwasabha to move gold into the countryArrests of three people, including a gold carrier, has made it clear that smugglers are using the border point to bring the precious yellow metal from Tibet, say police.
On October 14, police arrested Topchen Bhote with 5kg gold and Rs38,000 cash from Chyamtang in Bhotkhola Rural Municipality, Sankhuwasabha. Chyamtang is three days’ walk from the district headquarters, Khandbari, and just 30 minutes’ walk from Kimathanka, the border point between Nepal and China.
Following Bhote’s arrest, police were able to arrest two more people—Jarka Bhote of Khandbari Municipality and Chyang Rinjin Bhote of Bhotkhola Rural Municipality—who were also involved in the gold smuggling racket.
According to Topchen, they were using the border point as a gateway to haul gold to various parts of the country, including Dharan, Biratnagar and even Kathmandu, for a long time.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Mim Bahadur Lama, Topchen was arrested following a tip-off after he entered Nepal from Tibet with the gold. Police caught up with Topchen and after identifying him searched his belongings when they discovered five gold bars taped inside a jacket that was tucked underneath food items inside a bag.
“We suspect that a large racket is operating out of this border point and we are searching for other individuals involved in the crime,” Lama said.
Police had long suspected that contraband gold was being trafficked through Kimathanka border, but they had not arrested anyone until a month ago.
The Koshi-Lasha highway is the shortest route to Tibet from Jogabani, India. The highway passes through Kimathanka border point and is known as the tri-nation link road. Since the border point is open, smugglers have been using it to move contraband gold and other items.
The border point lacks proper customs office owing to the remoteness of the area, which has led to an increase in smuggling cases, said Thudok Bote, a local of Hatiya.
“Earlier, this border point was used by wildlife parts smugglers,” said Thudok. “These days, the route is being used to smuggle gold.”
Thudok said repeated requests made by the local residents to the District Administration Office to set up a proper customs office to check contraband smuggling through the border point have gone unanswered.
Owing to lax border security, several people in the district are reportedly working as couriers for gold smuggling racket. All three people arrested for gold trafficking were allegedly working for a big racket.
Investigators found that Jarka Bhote, one of the arrested individuals, had received a large deposit in his bank account after the gold crossed the border.
Police suspect that the money was Jarka’s payment for moving the gold across the border.
Following the arrest of Jarka and the others, a meeting of the District Security Committee has decided to step up the security measures at all other border points.
“We have deployed a substantial number of security personnel in the area to curb smuggling and other criminal activities,” said Chief District Officer Jiwan Dulal.
He added that his office is also planning to deploy a contingent of Armed Police Force at the Kimthanka border point.