540 Nepalis returning from India leave ‘rescue facility’ in Nepalgunj

    A total of 540 Nepalis brought to Nepalgunj on Monday morning from the Jamunaha border crossing and kept at Mahendra Multiple Campus have left the ‘rescue facility’.

    Banke District Administration Office and Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City had brought nearly 540 Nepalis stranded at the Nepal-India border after it was closed on Monday morning.

    A Cabinet meeting on Sunday had decided to close all border points with India and China for a week starting 10am on Monday.

    As many Nepalis arrived at the Jamunaha-Rupaidiha crossing on Monday morning, district authorities allowed the returnees to enter Nepal and kept them at the campus.

    The returnees said authorities kept them at a mismanaged, overcrowded and poorly-equipped facility, and demanded that they be allowed to leave. Some of the people climbed the fence and left. The rest followed suit.

    A policeman stationed at the campus, said, “Some of them hopped onto auto rickshaws and left while others hid in the surrounding fields. We tried to stop them but we could not.”

    “We were at high risk of contracting coronavirus at the facility. More than 30 people were kept in one room. We thought it better to leave than stay in such a crowded place,” said Netra Bahadur BK of Bardiya, one of the migrant workers returning from India on Monday.

    But authorities said they were planning to prepare a quarantine facility for the returnees. “We kept around 540 people at the camp after we brought them from the border in the morning. We were making necessary arrangements, but they ran away,” said Uma Thapa, deputy mayor of Nepalgunj sub-metropolis.

    The local administration, however, claimed the place where the returnees were kept was not a quarantine facility. “It was not a quarantine facility. We were only accommodating them there until we made other arrangements,” said Kumar Bahadur Khadka, chief district officer of Banke.