KATHMANDU, Feb 2: Amid increasing instances of foreigners´ involvement in various illegal activities in recent years, the government has initiated the process to form a separate Counter Intelligence Unit (CIU) to make close scrutiny over activities of ´suspicious´ foreign nationals residing in Nepal both on ´tourist´ and ´non-tourist´ visas.
The CIU being formed through joint initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Ministry of Home Affairs will maintain records of all those travelling to Nepal and keep close scrutiny over their activities.
The CIU will also be entrusted to make recommendations to the concerned government authorities for appropriate actions including annulling visas if the foreigners living in Nepal are found involved in any unscrupulous/unauthorized activities.
Highly placed government officials said their preliminary investigation suggested that many foreign nationals living in Nepal both on ´tourist´ and ´non-tourist´ visa categories were found involved in the activities other than those permitted to them. "It has been found that many foreign nationals who landed in Nepal on tourist visa are involved in businesses, religious preaching and various other unscrupulous activities. The CIU aims at curbing such practices," said senior government official privy to the development.
The formation of the CIU has also been made a part of broader Intelligence Policy being formulated by the Home Ministry. The CIU will work in close coordination with MoFA, National Investigation Department, security agencies and the Department of Immigration.
The latest initiative comes in the wake of MoFA officials complaining that many ´suspicious´ foreign nationals visiting Nepal and getting involved in activities that are detrimental to broader national interests.
"Many a times we come to know about the visit by high-profile foreigners only after they hold meeting with the country´s VIPs," complained a foreign ministry official. Since the CIU will track foreigners right since they land in the country, such a situation is expected to come to an end after the CIU becomes fully operational.
Officials said one of the main reasons that prompted the formation of CIU was the involvement of foreign nationals living on professional visa category in various ´suspicious´ activities other than those permitted to them.
In a recent case in a point, Home Ministry had directed the Department of Immigration to rescind the visa of a foreigner, who obtained a non-tourist visa to work at a Kavre-based Hospital, after he was found involved in religious preaching and other suspicious activities.
Officials involved in the preparatory works of CIU told Republica that the CIU will maintain record of the arrival of any foreigners through Tribhuvan International Airport and other immigration points in Nepal and monitor the activities of any ´suspicious´ foreigners while they are in Nepal.
"Obviously, not all foreigners are here with good intention. The formation of CIU will make it easy to track down any suspicious or illegal activities on the part of foreigner since it works in close coordination with police, government intelligence arm and the immigration system," said an official on condition of anonymity.