BIRATNAGAR, March 30: Although the government has suspended land border crossings with India to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Nepali nationals mostly migrant workers have been defying this restriction and entering the eastern districts of Nepal.
Local residents have expressed serious concern over the continuous entry of fellow countrymen from India saying that it has posed huge risk of coronavirus transmission to various districts of Province 1.
The Nepali nationals entered the country almost every day after the government started enforcing the week-long lockdown on March 24 suspending the border crossings with the southern neighbor. Although the major land border crossings remained closed in this period, most of the people entered through other border points which are not active. Even after the government extended lockdown for another week, people are entering to various districts of Province 1.
Amid outbreak fears in Nepal, Nepali people residing in various parts of India including New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar seem determined to make it to home at any cost.
Not only Nepal, but its southern neighbor India has also enforced 21-day lockdown. However, people who had been to India for employment, studies, trips and treatment are entering Nepal.
Situation would not worsen until they arrive in their home. However, they claim to have entered the territory long ago and refuse to stay isolated. It has further heightened the risk of spreading the deadly diseases of COVID-19.
“No entry has been reported via Rani border point, however, people keep on entering from other places. The open and porous border point with India has invited fresh risk at this point of time,” Mohammad Phaiyaj, a resident of Biratnagar-15 told Republica Online adding that people, however, do not bear risk of going to the Indian side.
Mayor of Biratnagar metropolitan city Bhim Parajuli also admitted that people are still entering forcefully from rivers and ravines and fields none other than Rani entry point. “It’s been a major headache as Indian security personnel also didn’t take any action against them,” Parajuli added.
A total of 41 India returnees have been kept at quarantine in Tandi, Morang.
Jhapa which shares the longest border with India has faced this new challenge. It has border with two Indian states West Bengal and Bihar. Both Nepali and Indian sides have maize fields. People enter Nepal hiding in those fields. “Some come in the evening while others in the early morning. They do not want to stay in quarantine either,” Atmaram Rajbanshi of Gaurigunj, Jhapa said.
Armed Police Force, Chandragadhi in-charge SP Ramesh Kumar Limbu, however, claimed that entry from Indian side has now controlled to a greater extent. “At the same time, we find it hard to patrol effectively along the borderline due to the lack of necessary vehicles,” Limbu added.
Sunsari, another district of Province 1 which shares 65-km border with India has also witnessed random entry of people these days. Chairperson of Harinagar rural municipality Gafar Ansari said “Due to ignorance among the people, they hide or wander around their village instead of being in quarantine.”
Residents of Ilam’s Rong rural municipality have started patrolling at Mechi river along Nepal-India border. “Because of it, arrival from India has now controlled,” chairperson Shamsher Rai said.