National

Nepalis flying to third countries via India facing hassles at airports

  • Foreign Ministry and Nepali Embassy in Delhi have failed to disseminate information about mandatory no-objection certificate properly
- SURESH NEUPANE, Kathmandu

May 12, 2019-

Suravi Acharya has been living in the United States for quite some time. Three weeks ago, she was in Mumbai on a personal visit. After a week, she booked a flight for Newark, New Jersey. The Air India flight was scheduled to take off at 1:30am. But Air India did not allow her to board the plane. The reason: She did not have a "no-objection certificate". She left the airport in the middle of the night with her three-year-old son. She had to reschedule her flight. There were extra expenses and on top of that she went through unnecessary mental tension.

This is one problem Nepalis often face while flying to a third country via Indian airports. A no-objection certificate, which is issued by the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi, for Nepalis flying to third countries via India is a mandatory provision but due to negligence on the part of the Foreign Ministry and the embassy in Delhi, many Nepalis are facing a tough time on a daily basis.

Neither the embassy nor the ministry has properly disseminated information regarding the no-objection certificate for Nepalis flying via Indian airports.

After a massive surge in the number of Nepalis going abroad illegally, the Nepal government, through a ministerial level decision in 2009, had prohibited its citizens holding general passports from flying to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Malaysia and Lebanon.

The Nepali Embassy in Delhi had accordingly written to India's Ministry of External Affairs and the airport authority, requesting them not to let Nepalis fly to the nine countries out of Indian airports without a no-objection certificate from the embassy. But in view of the expanding network of human traffickers, India last year made it mandatory for citizens of Nepal and Bhutan to get no-objection certificate from their embassies for flying out of Indian airports for the third country.

But many Nepalis are clueless about such a provision. And they come to know about the no-objection certificate only when they reach the airport. Suravi said she had checked the website of the Nepali Embassy in Delhi to confirm whether she would require any additional papers to fly out of Mumbai. "But there was no information regarding the no- objection certificate," she said. "I was told I need no-objection certificate from our embassy at the airport."

Similarly, Dhareneshwor Gharti had called his sister to Greenland, Denmark around three months ago. His sister reached New Delhi-based Indira Gandhi International Airport in mid-February by obtaining a visa from the Delhi-based Danish Embassy.

Gharti’s sister, who had also received a boarding pass, was intercepted by the immigration officials at the airport saying that she can’t travel to any third country without a no-objection letter from the Nepali Embassy. She had to forfeit the entire fare after being stopped from boarding the flight on time.

Though many Nepalis have been facing this kind of problem over many years, Nepali Embassy in New Delhi and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not serious towards issuing the notice.

The Nepali Embassy, however, has been saying that it has been holding consultations with the India side regarding the issue.

During an unofficial conversation, high-level officials at the embassy said issuing such kind of notice would strain the relations between Nepal and India. Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali had also dropped a similar hint during his visit to New Delhi last December.

At a meeting with Non-resident Nepalis in Delhi, Minister Gyawali, however, had urged the Nepalis to travel a third country from Nepal if they face problem at Indian airports.

His statement suggests that the high-level officials are not serious towards the problem that Nepalis have been facing at Indian airports for the past many years.

On top of that, embassy officials themselves are also forced to grapple with unnecessary tension. Many Nepalis are seen running helter-skelter each mid-night urging the officials to prepare no-objection certificate.

“We get phone calls almost every night requesting for a no-objection certificate. We can’t deny their request for the sake of humanity,” an official said, adding, “Most of them said they would have applied for the no-objection certificate had the government issued a notice. I don’t know what is stopping the government from issuing the notice.”

India, however, has issued a directive related to the no-objection certificate for the citizens of Nepal and Bhutan.

There is a provision in the directive that Nepali and Bhutanese citizens cannot travel to a third country without acquiring a no-objection certificate.

“Nepali and Bhutanese passport holders should mandatorily have a no-objection certificate to travel a third country via India,” the directive states.

Indian Embassy in Nepal, however, had issued the notice regarding the no-objection certificate for its citizens who wish to travel third country via Nepal a decade ago.

When asked why the Nepal government has not yet issued public notice pertaining to the no-objection certificate, spokesperson for the Nepali Embassy in Delhi Hari Odari conceded that he had no knowledge why the government was dilly-dallying to issue a public notice, urging the media persons to contact his seniors for further details.

Earlier in the last week of April, the Nepali Embassy in Bangkok, however, had issued a notice urging the Nepalis who have been residing in Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam to apply for a no-objection certificate if they want to re-enter these countries via Indian airports.

Published: 13-05-2019 07:00

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