Temporary quarantine facility built on no man’s land to keep more than a hundred Nepalis caught at Indo-Nepal border in NepalgunjAround two dozen Nepalis stuck in Valmiki Nagar in Bihar complain of authorities’ apathy towards them.
Rupa Gahatraj & Narayan Sharma
More than 180 Nepalis, who were on their way to Nepal through Nepalgunj from various Indian cities, have been kept in a temporary quarantine facility set up in the no man’s land area in Nepalgunj Thursday onwards.
Officials of both the countries reached the decision to facilitate the Nepali nationals in the border itself since the stranded Nepalis refused to move from the area and stay at a quarantine facility in India.
“We have been through a lot in the last few days,” said Raju Sunar, on his way back to Surkhet from India. “We didn’t want to move from the border and go back to India. I’d rather stay here than in a foreign country in these difficult times.”
Guman Gharti, who is also from Surkhet, was happy with the authorities’ decision. “It’s such a relief,” said Gharti. “I was worried about being sent to India.”
According to Guman, they had started their journey home five days ago. Since Monday evening they were staying in the no man’s land after Nepali authorities barred them from entering the country.
The Nepali nationals who tried to enter the country from Jayaspur, Hirmaniya and various smaller border crossings in the district were brought to the no man’s land by the security forces.
They were allowed to cross the Indian checkpoint at Rupaidiha by Indian security forces on Monday evening but were denied entry to Nepal. They were asked to go back to India where the Indian authorities would make necessary arrangements for them to be quarantined.
Nepal Army has set up 45 tents as a temporary quarantine facility in the no man’s land.
“We tried to persuade them to go to a quarantine facility on the Indian side of the border, but they refused,” said Superintendent of Police Bir Bahadur Oli, head of Banke Police.
Nine other Nepali nationals including disabled, women and children were allowed to enter the country and quarantined at Mahendra Multiple Campus two days ago following the request of Nepalgunj Sub Metropolitan City, said Oli.
“To quarantine the rest in the no man’s land area was the option left for us,” said Kumar Bahadur Khadka, the Chief Administrative Officer of Banke. “We feel for them, but we have to follow the government’s order.”
Food to the stranded will be provided by the Nepalgunj Submetropolis for as long as they stay in the temporary quarantine facility. “They will be quarantined for 14 days,” said Oli. “Nepal Police and Armed Police Force will be deployed for their security.”
Meanwhile, 24 Nepalis who had gone for medical treatment in Valmiki Nagar in Bihar, India are also waiting to come back home.
Bhaktiram Dotel, who is from Butwal and currently staying in the hospital premises, said that two dozen Nepalis are stuck in Valmiki Nagar since March 25, the day India enforced the lockdown. “I had come to the hospital to get checked but was not able to return to Nepal after India announced a 21-day lockdown,” Dotel told the Post over the phone.
Dharmagat Dhakal, the Sub Inspector at Tribeni Police Post at Binayi Tribeni Rural Municipality Ward No. 6 in Nawalparasi (East) said, “We have been informed that 24 Nepalis are stuck at a hospital in Bihar, India. None of them has called us yet.”
According to Dotel, the authorities have not made any arrangements for their stay in India or have made the efforts to bring them back to Nepal. “We are living in desperate circumstances. Nobody has come forward to help us.”
Dhakal says the authorities can’t do much to help the stranded Nepalis in Valmiki Nagar given the lockdown. “There is not much we can do about it. We have informed the Home Ministry,” he said.