Sarfaraz Alam, elected from Jokihat in Araria district as a ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) candidate, created a furor after he crossed into southern Nepal’s Saptari district Saturday flanked by machine gun-toting bodyguards without giving prior information to the Nepali authorities.
The young politician, son of former union minister Mohammad Taslimuddin, arrived with his family members to celebrate New Year’s Day with a picnic at Golghar, a scenic spot near the Koshi barrage in Bhardwaha in Saptari.
Two Bolero vehicles also carried his armed bodyguards.
As per protocol, Indian officials can’t bring armed bodyguards to Nepal and vice-versa. The norm is to inform the host country which then provides security.
The controversial legislator, who allegedly faces charges of criminal activities, spent nearly five hours in Nepal ignoring the furor he had created and security officials’ request to leave.
It was ironic that Alam became the first Indian to hit the headlines in Nepal at the start of the new year, especially when the country is seeking to bring at least 265,000 Indian tourists to meet its goal of drawing one million visitors this year.
The other foreign visitors to grab the limelight provided a deeply contrasting image.
Australian Terry Shaw and his daughter Phoebe, who were among the first foreign visitors to touch down at the Tribhuvan International Airport Saturday, were garlanded and gifted a day’s free stay, including sightseeing.
In May 2010, another legislator from India created a similar furore.
Vidya Chaudhuri, a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislator from Uttar Pradesh, had strayed into Nepal with armed bodyguards while on an election campaign trail and was detained by Nepal police for several hours.
She was allowed to return after she said the incursion was made by mistake and police verified her identity.