Lockdown leaves many incoming Nepalis in a fix at various border points

    The country went into a weeklong lockdown from Tuesday 6am bringing all services except essential ones into a standstill. This move has hit Nepalis, mostly migrant workers and students, who have reached various Nepal-India border points from India amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

    On Tuesday, around 1,000 Nepalis stranded at the Gaurifanta border crossing in Kailali district since Monday evening, protested against the authorities.

    According to the Kailali District Administration Office, the returnees have been stopped at the crossing.

    In Panitanki border crossing in Kakarbhitta, Jhapa, at least 100 Nepalis including 14 students who have returned from Mumbai, India on Tuesday morning are waiting to be allowed in.

    Though they were allowed to cross the checkpoint on the Indian side of the border by Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), India's border security force, after checking their identity card, the Nepali authority has not allowed them to enter Nepal yet.

    "We are coordinating with the Home Ministry," said Meena Upreti, the Deputy Mayor of Mechinagar Municipality. "We have requested the ministry to allow their entry if they agree to stay in a quarantine facility in Jhapa." Uprety said that the ministry has not given any direction yet.

    “Mechinagar Municipality has made a 70-bed quarantine facility,” said Udaya Bahadur Rana, the Chief Administrative Officer of Jhapa. “Similarly, there is a 32-bed quarantine facility at Kalwalgudi in Bhadrapur and a 90-bed facility in Birtamod Municipality.” The returnees will be taken to one of these facilities if they are to be brought into the country, according to Uprety.

    "For now, we have requested them to stay in India," said Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajendra Pokhrel of Area Police Office, Kakadvitta, “until we hear from the administration.”

    "Indian security forces tell us to go to Nepal," said one of the students caught at the border. "And Nepali security forces do not allow us to enter our own country."

    Though Nepal sealed its borders with China and India from Monday at 10 am for a week, around 2,000 Nepalis entered through Panitanki crossing on Monday night.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.