Nepal seals borders, its citizens allowed to return home from UP after several hours’ chaosUpdated: Mar 23, 2020 19:55 IST
A large number of Nepalese nationals were stranded in seven districts of Uttar Pradesh for several hours on Monday after the Nepal government closed the international borders to check the spread of the coronavirus, a state government officer said.
The situation eased in the evening as the Nepal border police lifted the barriers on roads leading to Nepal from the seven districts in UP to allow the stranded Nepalese citizen to return home, Maharajganj district magistrate Ujjwal Kumar said. The step was taken after a high- level meeting between Indian and Nepalese governments.
From Tuesday, no one will be allowed cross the border from India or Nepal till March 29, he said.
An officer said majority of the Nepalese arrived on the border at 4am and were allowed entry at 6.30pm.
Earlier in the day, tension was palpable at the Uttar Pradesh- Nepal border in Maharajganj and Siddharthnagar districts of UP on Monday morning after Nepal border police stopped Nepalese citizens from returning to the Himalayan nation from India.
The situation was no different in Siddharthnagar, Shravasti, Balrampur, Bahraich, Lakhimpur and Pilibhit districts that share their borders with Nepal.
The affected people, including women and children, told police officers that they were Nepalese citizens returning from various cities in India and wished to go home. They also showed their documents but the officers refused to pay heed to their pleas. Indian citizens were also not allowed to enter Nepal.
A Nepal police officer deputed on the border near Sonauli in Maharajganj district said the decision to close the borders till March 29 was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday night.
The movement of commercial vehicles across the border will continue as usual but truck drivers, helpers and cleaners will be screened before entry, he said.
People became restive and tried to cross the border, but were pushed back. Extra police force was deployed to control the crowd.
Shiv Bahadur Thapa, resident of Butwal town in Nepal, said he, along with his wife and children, arrived from New Delhi in the morning, but was stopped at the border.
“I am trying to contact my family members and friends to manage my entry into Nepal,” he said.
As the crowd multiplied, residents of Sonauli feared the large gathering on border may lead to the spread of coronavirus in the town.
Maharajganj district magistrate Ujjwal Kumar held a meeting with the Nepal administration and police officers to resolve the issue. He urged the Nepalese officers to permit their citizens to enter the country. After talks in the morning, the Nepal border police briefly lifted the barricades, allowing their citizens to return.
At 10am, they again closed the borders, leaving hundreds of people stranded.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government permitted the Indian citizens returning from Nepal to cross the border. These people were screened by doctors at medical camps on the border.
Those found to be unwell were referred to hospitals nearby for treatment.
Maharajganj DM Ujjawal Kumar said, “The Indian citizens coming from Nepal were permitted entry after screening by the medical team posted on the border. We are also maintaining their details, including address and the place of visit. The district administration has also set up a helpdesk. Daily, around 12,000 people are being screened at the border health camps. Regular awareness campaign was organised in the villages located on UP- Nepal border.”
An officer posted at the immigration office in Sonauli said, the ministry of home affairs on Monday ordered the closure of all immigration check posts at all airports, seaports, land ports, rail ports and river ports in view of the spread of Covid- 19. The vehicles/ trains carrying goods and essential supplies were exempted from this order.
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath held a review meeting on Sunday and directed the officers of Maharajganj, Siddharth Nagar, Shravasti, Balrampur, Bahraich, Lakhimpur and Pilibhit to remain alert.
He directed the officers and police force to remain vigilant and screen people crossing the border.
A report from New Delhi said Nepalese authorities had decided to allow the country’s nationals stranded at land border crossings in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal provided they furnished proof of citizenship, people familiar with developments said.
The Nepalese citizens will be allowed after providing proof of citizenship such as passports or citizenship cards, the people said. Those who were allowed to cross the border will also have to undergo medical screening and be quarantined within their homes for 14 days, they added.
The head of the district administrations on the Nepalese side will supervise this process.
Officials of the Nepalese embassy are also coordinating with Indian authorities to assist some 400 Nepalese citizens stranded at the Anand Vihar bus terminal in New Delhi. Several Nepalese organisations in New Delhi provided food and other essential supplies to the stranded people on Monday.
The people stranded at the bus terminal are expected to be shifted to a relief camp or some other accommodation till arrangements can be made for their evacuation.
GROOM, MARRIAGE PARTY DENIED ENTRY
A groom, Rafiq Ahmed, resident of Campeerganj town in Maharajganj district in UP, was denied permission by Nepal police to cross the international border at Maharajganj (Uttar Pradesh).
Rafique’s marriage was fixed with a woman from Bhairahwa town in Nepal. As the marriage was to be solemnised on Monday, Rafiq arrived with the baraat (marriage party) but the Nepal police stopped him and the baraat from crossing the border. The bridegroom family also arrived on the border to persuade the police officers to allow the groom to cross the border, but Nepal police turned down the request. Rafiq returned home to Campierganj with the baraat.