Nepali passport holders flying out from Indian airports face hassles

Published On: August 8, 2018 08:51 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 8: A Nepali passport holder, Madhu Ghimire, reached Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on August 1 along with his wife to fly to Manila via Singapore. Immigration officials at the airport informed them that they needed a ‘no objection certificate’ (NOC) from the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi for their travel — something they were not aware of before.

As the flight was just two hours away, it was virtually impossible to get the NOC from the embassy. Ghimire couple then pleaded with the immigration officials at the desk for long, but to no avail. “Subsequently, I sought a meeting with the Immigration Officer at the airport and explained my situation. He was empathetic and granted exemption and I am now waiting to board the aircraft,” Ghimire wrote on his Facebook page after passing through the ordeal at the airport. 

The ordeal of Ghimire, who vented his ire on Facebook post against the Indian government for allegedly curtailing his freedom to travel, is just one of such many cases. A large number of Nepali nationals traveling to third countries via Indian airports complain that they routinely face similar kinds of hassles of late.

Government officials in Nepal say the rule to produce NOC at the airport for those traveling from Indian airports to all Gulf countries and Malaysia is in place since 2009 after unscrupulous manpower agents increasingly chose Indian airports to take Nepali workers abroad in illegal manner since they did not require producing documents that they needed to show at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. 

As these manpower agents took workers without guarantee of jobs, there were many instances in which a large number of Nepali workers were left stranded at airports abroad for weeks, forcing Nepali embassy in the concerned country to rescue them. It was then that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) in coordination with the Ministry of Labor had requested Indian authorities to make NOC from its Delhi-based embassy mandatory for Nepali workers flying out to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, Malaysia and Lebanon in 2009. 

This rule has been strictly enforced at Indian airports after Nepal government decided to stop sending female workers as housemaids to various Middle East and Gulf countries in 2015. 

MoFA spokesperson Bharat Raj Paudyal said they have come to notice some instances of Nepali nationals flying to third countries facing hassles in various Indian airports in the recent months. 

“We have informed our embassy in New Delhi about this issue. Our colleagues are in touch with Indian immigration officials to resolve the problem,” he said. 

As per the existing arrangements, Nepali nationals traveling to countries other than Gulf countries and Malaysia need not produce NOC at the airports. 

“The main objective of this arrangement is to check the practice of unscrupulous manpower agencies taking Nepali workers through illegal channels. Except for a few exceptional cases, there were no such problems until recently. It seems that there are some confusions among those at the implementation level. We are trying to resolve this,” Paudyal further said.

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