Siraha border checkpoint: Closed for patients, open for smugglers

Published On: September 12, 2021 04:16 PM NPT By: Mithilesh Yadav

MADAR (SIRAHA), Sept 12: A patient has died as she could not be taken to a hospital after the Armed Police Force personnel ignored the request of her relatives to open the border checkpoint at Madar in Siraha district. Waheeda Khatun, 40, of Ramaul in Siraha Municipality-4 died on the Indian side of the border as she could not be provided treatment on time.

Khatun fell terribly ill while returning home from her relatives’ wedding in Gorakhpur, India. She had heartache when she reached the Jayanagar Railway Station at 2 AM on Thursday morning. Her daughter, Warida called her maternal uncle, Nurey Aalam to bring an ambulance to the border area. As he couldn't find the ambulance, Nurey reached there on his own three-wheeler. However, the border checkpoint was closed. Despite Nurey’s request to open the checkpoint to bring his sister, the police personnel on duty didn’t listen to him at all.

For about 45 minutes, Nurey, his brother Kamarey Aalam and brother-in-law Mohammad Isha took turns begging the police personnel to open the checkpoint. “As the police didn’t open the checkpoint, I carried her myself on my shoulders and brought her into Nepal across the border,” Aalam said. “On the way, my sister was telling me to hurry up as her heart was hurting unbearably. She stopped speaking when we crossed the border and reached the three-wheeler,” Alam said in a heavy voice. “She had already left the world when I placed her in the three-wheeler.”

According to Nurey Aalam, while Waheeda was dying at Siraha's Madar border at 3:30AM on Thursday, the Armed Police Force personnel and the customs officials were busy making arrangements for a motorcyclist, who had come from India with a large bag of goods, to enter Nepal. “My wife was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. She would have survived if she had been rushed to Siraha Hospital on time,” said Mohammad Isha. He blames the police personnel on duty for his wife’s death.

“What kind of rules do we have that close the border for a patient but open it for smugglers?” questions Aalam. “We can clearly see that the administration is not victim-friendly, but money-minded. The sight of my sister, who was in agony at the border, and the police personnel not dealing with her pain but welcoming smugglers and traders, will never go away from my mind.”

The victim's family also doubts if the incident will be investigated impartially and action will be taken accordingly. “I found that Chief District Officer (CDO) Pradeepraj Kanel was also trying to save the culprits of the incident,” Alam said. Bhavesh Jha, spokesperson for the District Administration Office, said that CDO Kanel had instructed him to reach the spot and find out the truth.

According to Loknath Upreti, Armed Police Force Inspector at the Border Outpost Madar, it is true that the family had requested the Armed Police Force personnel on duty to open the border checkpost. “The police personnel would have opened the checkpost if the family had repeatedly requested to open it. But they started wandering here and there,” Upreti said.

According to Madar Customs Chief Jagdish Kumar Purve, cargo vehicles can move through that checkpoint any time. “However, in the case of a patient, the door is opened only after we give permission,” he said. “At night our employees fall asleep. They should be woken up to open the checkpost. No one came to wake the on-duty policemen up that night.”

“Goods can come at any time. However, the way goods are seen entering the checkpost in the video is wrong,” said Purve. According to the locals of Madar, a motorcycle carrying goods reaches the smuggler's warehouse at Madar Bazaar through the checkpoint. “If the relatives of the patient had not taken the video on Wednesday night, that motorcycle carrying goods would have reached the smuggler's warehouse,” he said. According to Siraha Armed Police Force Superintendent Dipendra Giri, action will be taken against those who ignore the clear instructions to facilitate the movement of patients at the border.

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