Kathmandu : Six Indian nationals have been arrested at Biratnagar in eastern Nepal and arms and ammunition seized from them, Nepal Police said Thursday.
Muralidhar Das, Bikas Kumar Paswan, Nitesh Kumar Yadav, Pramod Kumar Tanti, Phantus Tanti and Subodh Paswan of Bhagalpur district in India's Bihar state, who entered Nepal in a Tata Indica car, were arrested Wednesday evening.
Morang district's Superintendent of Police Bishworaj Pokharel said five 7.65 mm and 9 mm pistols, loaded with bullets, were recovered.
According to him, police carried out a security check in the area after being informed about a car carrying a large number of illegal weapons and drugs entering Biratnagar.
Police claimed that those arrested, especially the Tanti duo, were notorious arms smugglers involved in criminal activities along the border since long.
Pokharel said some of the criminals have been arrested several times in the past by Indian police on charges of arms smuggling. The Nepal Police investigation revealed that two of the arrested -- Pramod and Phantus -- have already served jail terms in India on charges of gunrunning in the past.
The seized pistols, according to Pokharel, can fire eight rounds of bullets and are not home-made ones.
Preliminary police investigation shows that the suspects entered Nepal to supply the weapons to criminal groups. A police officer involved in the investigation said the suspects could be professional arms smugglers as five loaded pistols, nine magazines and 58 rounds of bullets were recovered from them.
However, the suspects, claiming innocence, said they came to Nepal only to visit a restaurant. Of late, Biratnagar has become a transit point for smuggling small arms.
"We have been informed that racketeers are active in smuggling arms using Jogbani and other small border points in the area," said Pokharel, adding that smugglers have been found supplying weapons to members of organised criminal groups and goons in Nepal protected by political leaders.
With the Nepal-India porous border being used by criminal groups for arms smuggling, Nepal Police have launched a special operation to check smuggling of small arms to Nepal from India and vice-versa.
Prior to the latest incident, in the last two months, Morang police have nabbed over a dozen small arms smugglers in Biratnagar and arrested five Indians and two Nepali nationals in this connection.