Youths migrate to India braving coronavirus


Before COVID-19 outbreak, Raju Khatri from Bheriganga Municipality-5, Surkhet, had been working in India for the past 13 years. Khatri used to visit his home during major festivals. He worked at a hotel as a waiter in-charge in Gujarat for many years.

Many Nepalese migrant workers in India lost their jobs and were compelled to return to their country due to the COVID pandemic.

Khatri was one among those, who had to leave his job and returned home around three months ago.

“I have been working in India for over a decade. I was able to run my family with the money I earned in India. But, now I have become jobless for months. Thus, I am going back to India to continue with the old job,” said Khatri.

Khatri lamented that he could not start a business of his own back in Nepal due to the lack of money. “I have been fretting over money ever since I came to Nepal. I have talked to my hotel boss and I am going there for the job,” he added.

Dipak Bista of Kupinde Municipality-3, Salyan, is also returning to India. Bista spotted on the Nepal-India border said he was going to Gujarat as he could not find any job in Nepal.

He had been working as a security guard there before the pandemic.

“I talked to my boss over the phone and he called me. So, I am going back to India to join the job,” said Bista.

Bista, however, said he would not leave for India if he had found some works in the country. “I am forced to go back to India as the government does not provide us jobs and Nepal does not have large industries. Thus, I am going back to India to feed my family,” Bista shared.

Dil Bahadur Pun from Guvakot Municipality-1, Surkhet, had returned home from India’s New Delhi, three months ago. He reached home after staying in a quarantine facility for 14 days. “I was able to run the family with money earned in India. But, now I have no income to support my family. I do not know how I am going to support my family.

Therefore, I am going back to New Delhi,” he said.

According to SI Bishnu Giri at Area Police Office, Jamunah, some 100 to 150 youths have been returning to India on a daily basis even during the lockdown via Jamunah border point.

Agriculture production is low in the hilly districts of Karnali Province. Locals find it difficult to make their ends meet as their agriculture products don’t even last for six months. Youths head to India to make their ends meet.

Lack of job opportunities and government apathy towards their problems have compelled the youths to leave for India even though the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still high in India.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 6, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.