Hundreds of homebound Nepalis stranded in no-man’s-land in KapilvastuScores of people gathered at the border attempted to enter Nepal on Monday, but they were stopped by security personnel of the Armed Police Force.
Manoj Paudel & Sanju Paudel
As many as 343 homebound Nepalis had reached the no-man’s land along the Nepal-India border in Kapilvastu by Wednesday afternoon, but they were denied entry into the country. Security personnel of the Armed Police Force stopped the Nepalis from crossing the border, as the country is currently under lockdown to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19.
“It’s been more than 40 days since the lockdown and we had difficulties managing food and shelter in India. So we were compelled to return home,” said Dinesh Bhar, a resident of Kapilvastu. According to him, it took him seven days to reach the border from Mumbai in Maharashtra, India. “I walked and hitchhiked to the no-man’s land,” he said.
The returnees say they have been staying at the no-man’s land without food and water since they were stopped from entering the country.
“We decided to come home rather than starve in a foreign land. But the police stopped us at the border,” said Buddiram Raidas of Kapilvastu.
A total of 155 people spent the night in the border area on Tuesday, and they were joined by 188 others on Wednesday. Ninety-eight people are staying in the no-man’s-land in Maryadapur, 81 in Chakalchauda, 62 in Hardauna, 48 in Krishnanahar, 46 in Bhilmi, seven in Hathihawa and one in Bijayanagar.
Local units and some individuals, in coordination with the security personnel deployed at the border, provided tents and food to those stranded.
Meanwhile, the local administration said it was out of their jurisdiction to take a decision on whether to allow the returnees to enter Nepal or not.
“The federal Ministry of Home Affairs instructed us not to let anyone cross the border. We are following the ministry's order,” said Dirgha Narayan Paudel, the chief district officer of Kapilvastu. According to him, efforts are underway to keep the stranded Nepalese in quarantine in India. “We are coordinating with the administration of Siddharthnagar in India,” he added.
Following the government’s decision, the Armed Police Force has sealed the 93-km-long Nepal-India border in Kapilvastu to prevent people from crossing the border. The Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday has decided to extend the nationwide lockdown until May 18 and to continue closing all border points until May 31.
However, in Rupandehi, many people are still found crossing into Nepal through porous border points at night. People’s representatives in the district complained that Sammarimai, Mayadevi and Kotahimai rural municipalities, which border with India, are at high risk of coronavirus outbreak, as people are still crossing into Nepal through these border areas.
Netra Prasad Ghimire, chief administrative officer at Kotahimai, said the entry of people from India is still going unchecked.
“People are crossing streams and walking through forests to avoid security. Some of them come to our contact while many entrants are not traced,” said Ghimire.
According to APF Inspector Anil Thapa, a total of 75 security personnel are deployed in the border outpost in Marchawar, but security in the forest areas is lax at night.