Province 5 tightens security along border as people’s movement continuesNepali authorities say they are concerned about the free movement of people as the Kolhui Bazaar in India, which lies just across the border, reported six Covid-19 patients on Saturday.
Border closures and lockdowns enforced by the governments of Nepal and India to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have not stopped the cross-border movements of people at some border points in Province 5.
Nepali security forces say they are concerned about the free movement of people along the border, as the Kolhui Bazaar in India, which lies just across the border, reported six Covid-19 patients on Saturday. District administrations in Province 5 have said they are further tightening the open border and deploying security personnel in areas where the movement of people across the border is high.
Province 5 Chief Minister Shankar Pokharel has said he has been holding discussions with administration officers of districts that share a border with India about maintaining high vigilance and monitoring.
“We are now compelled to intensify patrolling to stop people from moving across the border, as the bordering towns in India have reported new cases,” Rupandehi CDO Mahadev Pantha said. “We have deployed more security personnel at the bordering areas.”
Rupandehi shares about 60km of border with India. This is the first time the Nepal-India border has been tightened to this extent. India, too, has increased its security presence along the border. On Thursday, a meeting between Nepali security officials and their Indian counterpart held discussions on tightening the border on both sides.
Kolhui Bazaar, which reported six Covid-19 cases on Saturday, lies about seven km from the Nepal-India border in Marchbar. Prior to the lockdown, people from both the countries moved across the border for shopping and trade purposes.
Jitendra Nath Shukla, chief of Sammarmai Rural Municipality, said that despite the border closure, people have been using proxy routes to cross the border in the night. “We have received tip-offs that about a dozen people have been crossing the border daily,” Shukla said. “We are committed to control that.”
In Banke too, the district administration has added security forces in all the border crossings, said CDO Kumar Bahadur Khadka.
“We have deployed additional APF personnel since the lockdown hasn’t stopped the movement of people along the border,” Khadka said. Banke shares a 65 km long border with India. Other districts in the province, such as Kapilvastu and Bardiya, have also deployed additional security personnel at the border.