Agitation due to prolonged border closure in Province 2The border has been closed since March 21 to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
All eight districts of Province 2 that border India are pressuring the government to reopen the Nepal-India border. The border was sealed on March 21 to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
In Parsa’s Birgunj, Sambad Samuha organised an hour-long sit-in in front of the Birgunj Customs for 22 days to pressurize authorities to open the border. On Saturday, the organisation cancelled its sit-in to prepare for other programmes like public awareness, all party interaction and signature collection campaign.
Similarly, a sit-in programme to pressurize authorities to reopen the border has been continuous for the last two weeks in Sarlahi. Those participating in the sit-in have started falling sick due to the cold wave.
“We are going to launch strong protest programmes in the coming days if our demands are not addressed. The border should be opened to ease our daily life,” said Methur Chaudhary, coordinator of the struggle committee.
The border closure has greatly affected all districts of the province.
The tourism sector in Janakpur has taken a hit, as the majority of its tourists were from India.
“The hotels in Janakpur used to be fully occupied by Indian tourists during the Ram Janaki Bibaha Mahotsab. But this year, there are no guests in the hotels of Janakpur due to the border closure,” said Abhisek Jhunjhunwala, a hotel entrepreneur in Janakpur. According to him, around 80 percent of the tourists that Janakpur receives are from India.
This year’s Ram Janaki Bibaha Mahotsab did not have much fanfare. None of the sages arrived in Janakpur from Aayodhya due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“There's also a problem in managing daily essentials and receiving medical treatment due to the border closure. We are not getting any tourists from India and our married daughters are facing trouble travelling to-and-fro their houses in both the countries,” Jhunjhunwala said.
Meanwhile in Birgunj, Parsa, the border points have not officially opened yet but people from both Nepal and India are crossing the border through the Birgunj-Raxaul border point. Sometimes, security personnel deployed in the border point prohibit people from using the main road. In such a situation, local residents of Birgunj use the eastern side of the road from Birgunj Customs to reach Raxaul in India.
In Saptari, smuggling and theft cases are on the rise despite the border being closed since March.
“The border has been closed to the public but smugglers are continuing to operate in collusion with security personnel,” said Shekhar Kumar Singh, a member of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Shankhar Hari Adhikari, chief district officer of Saptari, said that the border has been closed in accordance with the decision of the federal government and that it would remain closed until the government says otherwise.
With inputs from our correspondents in Province 2.