The chief judicial magistrate’s court in Darjeeling has extended the judicial custody of 10 Nepali youths arrested from Darjeeling’s Kalpokhari last week for flying a drone till March 2.

The Nepali nationals were arrested by India’s Sashastra Seema Bal personnel at Kalpokhari on February 16 for flying drone at the international border without proper documents and valid licence.

Their case was forwarded to the forest department since the arrests were made from the area under the ambit of Singalila National Park.

Instead of producing the youths and investigation report before the court, which the forest department was supposed to do, it sought extension of judicial custody citing the need for more time to complete its investigation.

Nepal’s consulate general in Kolkata said they had been informed about the incident and a representative from the consulate will travel to Darjeeling today to launch the process of getting the Nepali youths released.

“Indian authorities are conducting investigations with the suspicion that the youths might be Chinese spies,” said Bed Prasad Ghimire, father of one of the arrested Biswas of Arjun Dhara, Jhapa.

He said Biswas and his friends were innocent as they had visited the place to make a video for YouTube targeting Visit Nepal 2020. Ghimire has also requested the government and the Nepali mission in New Delhi and Kolkata to help get his son and his friends released.

Those arrested are Bigyan Gautam, 29, Biswas Ghimire, 25, of Arjun Dhara, Jhapa;  Nishchal Karki, 23, of Garamani, Jhapa; Devindra Sitoula, 28, Kamal Subedi, 23, Dipan Goutam, 23, Animesh Bhattarai, 24, of Birtamod, Jhapa;  Samay Rijal, 26, of Sitapaila, Kathmandu; Krishna Sapkota, 24, of Chitwan; and Subodh Tripati, 23, of Dhading.