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Smuggling of black pepper to India on the rise through Indo-Nepal border

The smuggling of black pepper to India via illegal trading points in Bara is on the rise. Authorities came to know about the ongoing smuggling when the armed police force recently seized 2,300 kg of white pepper that was being transported to India. During this raid, the police found 46 sacks of black pepper that was being loaded on an Indian tractor ready to cross the border.  

While the seized black pepper, along with the Indian vehicle, has been sent to the Birgunj Custom Office for further legal actions, locals of the district said the recent seizure was only the tip of the iceberg.

According to locals, black pepper is illegally transported to India via a route that goes through Baswariya, Musharwa, Pachraouta, Beldari, Simrongadh, Matiarwa and Kabahigoth. The smugglers bring vehicles loaded with garments, grocery items and banned medicine from India and return with black pepper and betel nut.

Locals questioned the local police and the local administration officials’ complicity. “It is impossible to smuggle large quantities of pepper and betel nut without the local administration’s connivance,” said a Bara resident who did not wish to be identified.

Black pepper is smuggled to India two to three times a week, between 9pm to 4am, in a tractor or pick-up van, said a source. It is stored at Khajani, Simraungadh. Following the instructions of the police, handlers load the spice onto tractors and transport it to Agarwa, in India, said the source. To aid the smugglers, the police patrol route is conveniently switched, the source added.

Locals say goods are seized at the border only when traders and police argue on commission.

Black pepper’s retail price is Rs 700(Rs 450 INR) per kg in the Nepali markets, while its price is Rs 900(Rs 550 INR) in the Indian markets, claimed Gyaneshowr Yadav, a grocer from Kaliya. Because of this difference in price, the spice, which is largely imported from countries like Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia, is exported to India via illegal, clandestine channels. Traders also take advantage of nominal customs duty, say sources. 

Source: Kathmandupost.com​

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