400 Nepali migrants stuck on Sunauli border

Bhairahawa, March 31

More than 400 Nepali migrant workers have been stranded at the Nepal-India border in Rupandehi district for the last four days after the government closed border points with India to halt the spread of coronavirus in Nepal.

After India imposed a 21-day lockdown, most migrant workers, including students, visitors and pilgrims, among others, walked for four to five days from various parts of India to reach the border point before being stopped by security personnel over fear of the contagion spreading in the country.

According to Belhiya Area Police Office In-charge Inspector Ishowari Adhikari, those returning from India will not be allowed to enter Nepal unless directed by higher authorities.

“We will turn them away to India. We will not let them in at any cost. We have adequate force and are capable of stopping them at the border point,” Inspector Adhikari added.

Rupandehi’s Chief District Officer Maha Dev Panta did not respond to phone calls despite repeated attempts.

Likewise, Superintendent of Police Hem Bahadur Thapa said, “We cannot do anything unless the higher authority directs us to act on the issue.”

Sunauli Nagarpanchyat Chairman Sudhir Tripathi arranged food for at least 370 stranded Nepalis at three different locations in the area. “All of them went through preliminary health screening, Tripathi added.

“Its an irony that the authorities concerned are turning their backs in these difficult times.

We urge the authorities to rescue stranded people at the border point and place them in quarantine or isolation,” said Dr Santa Kumar Sharma, chair of the Federation of Nepal-India Border Agent Association.

There seems to be lack of preparedness in setting up quarantines at Belhiya near the border point from any level of the government, including Siddharthanagar Municipality.