Nepalis stranded in India continue to brave Mahakali River to return homeMore than 30 tried to cross the boundary river this weekend.
Reports of Nepali citizens stranded in India crossing the Mahakali River to return home started surfacing when the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus was first announced on March 23.
A Cabinet meeting on March 29 decided to allow all Nepalis stranded on the Nepal-India border to enter the country for one time on the condition that they remain in quarantine for 14 days. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to cross the mighty river to return home.
A month into the lockdown, migrants from various districts of Sudurpaschim and Karnali province in India for work, continue to jump into the river hoping to see the faces of their loved ones.
On Friday, three people crossed the Mahakali river and entered Mahakali Municipality. Two of them crossed the river on a rubber tube while the other swam across.
On Saturday, 34 people entered Nepal from Ghatibagad area of Byas Rural Municipality. They took their chances as the nearest security post is located in Dumling, about four hours walk away.
Inspector Surendra Prasad Joshi, information officer at the District Police Office, said that of the 34 people, 29 are permanent residents of Bajhang district, three are from Jajarkot and two are from Darchula.
Police detained have kept them at a quarantine facility. “Discussions are on whether to keep them in quarantine in Darchula or send them to the respective districts,” said Joshi.
The Darchula district administration claims to have upped border security in the district as migrant workers continue crossing the river. The Armed Police Force has set up nine temporary posts on the banks of the Mahakali to prevent people from crossing the river.
The district administration said it requested federal authorities in Nepal and India to rescue stranded workers on the other side of the border, but in vain. “We requested the federal government as well as the Indian authorities to rescue Nepali workers from Dharchula. But they have not responded yet,” said Yadunath Paudel, chief district officer of Darchula.
The Nepal-India border remains sealed for more than a month now to control the possible spread of Covid-19. When India announced a complete lockdown on March 23, Nepali migrant workers tried to go home en masse. But they were stranded as Nepal enforced its lockdown a day later.