Leaders nudge govt to address plight of the stranded citizens

KATHMANDU: At present, media and social media are rife with reports and discussions on hurdles faced by people set to travel to their hometowns, on foot -- now hitchhiking, now treading.

With businesses shut everywhere following nationwide lockdown, a large number of people employed away from their homes were left jobless and eventually imcomeless. These people had to resort to walking hundreds of kilometres to reach their homes.

Images of people walking miles in files along the highway to escape scarcity, of a family taking 'quick nap' in between their journey -- the mother doubling up as a mattress for her little girl, people seated packed in the back of trucks; videos of people struggling to find a way past one district to the other, locals denying access to these 'violators", among others, have taken centre-stage.

The plight of those in quarantine across the border in India struggling to get back home, some even risking their lives in attempt to do so, is another chapter awaiting its turn to get read.

The government, however, has repeatedly resorted to one standard, rigid mantra - stay wherever you are! An advice which comes without a plan B for many shelterless, resource less people who are being asked to stay wherever they are.

One of the first reports to bring light to these stories of struggle was published on Setopati, which was then picked up by many other reporters and storytellers - bringing miseries of these 'travelers' into discussion.

Scores of people have since propelled the government to facilitate safe passage of these people to their respective home districts; the local authorities then taking relevant measures to monitor their health.

Soon, various prominent politicians joined these voices suggesting, requesting, coaxing government to pay heed to their states.

While some offered help and suggestions for management of the issue at hand, others questioned government's stoic silence over what is a matter survival for thousands. Most of these messages were put up by the senders on their social media walls.

Here is who posted what on their timelines :

Sher Bahadur Deuba, Former PM, President of Nepali Congress

"Due to lack of food supplies and proper shelter,  many daily wage earners are traveling hundreds of kilometers on foot to reach their homes. The government ought to support the helpless people but it has become a mute spectator," the leader of main opposition party tweeted.

He further urged the government to arrange for food and shelter for the stranded people and to facilitate them with a secure passage to their homes.

Baburam Bhattarai, Former PM, Co-chair Samajwadi Party

"I finally got a response from the high-level coordination committee. The central government must mobilise its resources so that state bodies could take care of daily wage earners wherever they are," the former prime minister tweeted.

"Transportation must be provided for those stranded midway."

Kamal Thapa, Former DPM, Co-chair Rastriya Prajatantra Party

Co-chair of RPP Kamal Thapa warned the government of its waining popularity owing to its inability to manage the scenario. "Neither is the government capable of helping people stay wherever they are by managing their needs, nor is it doing providing any support in terms of guiding them home. Unnecessary stubbornness is the weapon of the weak," Thapa said, further urging government to manage the issue of the people stranded across various districts.

Previously, he had asked the government to show some sensitivity and responsibility towards people who were compelled to leave their temporary abodes fuelled by all-round shortage.

Ram Kumari Jhankri, MP, Nepal Comminist Party (NCP)

Member of Parliament representing the ruling party, Ram Kumari Jhakri

Quoting a video detailing plight of people facing difficulties after running out of resources, Jhakri expressed . "People try to shut me up but I cannot help but talk about the voiceless."

The lawmaker in an interview has also suggested measures to the government which according to her can help them redeem themselves.

Gagan Thapa, Former Health Minister, MP, Nepali Congress

Former Health Minister Thapa has been actively seen providing suggestions to the government and offering support to handle the epidemic. With regards to the plight of the people stranded without basic support for survival, Thapa tagged the Prime Minister in his tweet asking him what goes through his mind when he sees these images on a daily basis. "I feel ashamed to think I am their representative. What use is our safety, abandoning them in this state?" Thapa questioned.

"Summon us, let's work together," he offered support to jointly resolve the issue staying he can provide ideas for management of the people's issues.

Bishwa Prakash Sharma, Spokesperson, Nepali Congress

"These people know, not only this epidemic but also hunger can take lives," Bishwa Prakash Sharma, Spokesperson of opposition Nepali Congress said in the context. "Honorable Prime Minister, these people who are walking hundreds of miles to get home aren't going to a picnic," he said in a video tweet.