Stranded Indian workers demonstrate seeking to go homeAround 880 workers from across the border have been stranded at various brick kilns in Nawalparasi (East) due to the lockdown.
Around 880 Indian nationals working at several brick kilns in Nawalparasi district staged demonstrations on Thursday, demanding to go home.
The Indian workers have been demanding the authorities make arrangements for their return. Sarafat Ali, a labourer from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, India, said he would want to go home since it's the plantation season and there is no work at the brick kiln.
“It is time for us to cultivate our land and plant crops back home. But we are confined here at the kiln with no work.”
According to the brick kiln entrepreneurs’ association, as many as 880 Indian workers have been stranded in nine brick kilns in the district due to the prolonged lockdown. Many workers from neighbouring Indian villages come to work at the kilns in winter for seasonal employment and return home with the onset of summer.
The operators said there is no work at the kilns since this is not the time to bake bricks. “We don’t have any work at the kiln now. I have been providing food and shelter for the workers for the past few days. We have informed the local administration about the problem but haven’t heard back from them,” said Bikash Pradhan, owner of the DBI Brick Kiln in Kawasoti.
“The ward office and the district administration office instructed us to not let the workers go out of the brick factory. The workers have been chanting slogans for the past four days, demanding we let them out of the factory,” he said. “They say they’d rather walk home than stay here.”
According to Pradhan, family members of some workers had called up, asking him to let them go home. He said there were 90 Indian workers in his kiln now.
Jit Narayan Mahato, Ward 14 chairman in Kawasoti Municipality, said it will be difficult to make arrangements for the workers to be sent home to India given the lockdown.
“The workers will face more problems if we let them go home on foot without coordinating with the Indian government. The Nepal-India border remains sealed,” said Mahato. “These issues have to be sorted at the central level.”
While most businesses and services have been suspended due to the nationwide lockdown amid rising Covid-19 cases, several brick kilns in Nawalparasi (East) were in operation until two weeks ago. But the kilns stopped activity due to pre-monsoon rains and storms.
Krishna Gautam, district secretary of the brick kiln entrepreneurs’ association, said they had submitted a memorandum to the Indian embassy in Kathmandu a few days ago, asking them to take their citizens home but the issue remains unaddressed.
“We have also urged home, labour and industry ministries to take initiatives so that the stranded Indian workers could go home. But we haven’t heard from any one of them. There is no work at the kilns and the workers are impatient to go home,” said Gautam.