Nepali citizens returning from India locked out

  • Border crossing
- KHAGENDRA AWASTHI, Darchula

Nov 22, 2014-

While everyone is aware of the fact that Nepal shares a 1,880 km long border with India that is open and porous, many are still not aware of the regulations that differ from one border point to another. In a rare exception, the border points in some parts of western Nepal are sealed off in the evenings.

The residents of Jhulaghat in Baitadi and Darchula districts have been at the receiving end of the policy since years. The border security forces manning their outposts at either side of the border seal off the suspension bridge at dusk and uncaringly walk away. The tradition has been in effect at four bridges over the Mahakali river at Jhulaghat,Baitadi Joljibi, Dattu, and Khalanga in Darchula. While the regulation has created a major hurdle for cross border movement of people and goods, security personnel said that it was in effect due to ‘security reasons’.

In some cases, people have even been trapped at the bridge for the night as they were caught unawares about the regulation.

“Usually, people travelling across the border and failing to return on time are locked out,” said a local from Darchula. The regulation has become a major problem, especially for Nepali citizens travelling back home from various states in India and those in need of urgent medical assistance. As most hospitals refer patients to Dhangadhi and Mahendranagar, locals tend to seek treatment at the bordering town of Pithauragadh, India to avoid lengthy travel. The bridges are opened, and that too occasionally,

during the night only in close coordination between security agencies from both sides by considering the nature and seriousness of the cases, locals said.

However, locals are troubled the most during the transition period, i.e., when a new team of security personnel takes charge of the border outposts either in Nepal or India. And the problem persists until the security personnel of Seema Surakshya Bal, the Indian border security force, builds cordial relations with security personnel across the border in Nepal.  

“We have trouble taking the patients across the border during the time as the new teams deny the request to open the bridges even in exceptional cases,” complained media-person Bhojraj Joshi from Darchula. There are only three bridges connecting Pithauragadh, two in Darchula and one in Baitadi.

However, despite repeated requests of the locals, the government is yet to consider the issue, prolonging their predicament.

Published: 23-11-2014 09:36

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