New Border Regime by Parwat Portel

Photo: Parwat Portel/

NEW BORDER REGIME: It is mid-day and the India-Nepal border via the Mechi Bridge is busy. There are a handful of cars making their way, but most travellers returning to Nepal are walking the half kilometre on foot. About seven Armed Police Force personnel keep a watchful eye as returnees make their way. I arrive with my camera, and the armed personnel quickly fix their masks. There was a time when there used to be more officers on duty at the border, but their numbers have decreased as many have tested positive for COVID-19.

At the bridge, I met Rita Gurung, 50, her daughter and her grand-daughter. She travelled from Ahmedabad and was on her way to Butwal. They had waited a long time and were exhausted, “We feel like we have been walking and waiting forever, this pandemic has made it so difficult for us to return home,” she said. Gurung and the other returnees first get their identification checked by the police. They are then sent to the holding centres to get their fever tested, give details about their travel history and contact/family information. This process usually takes a few hours. Those who have fever go to the local quarantine facility where they are given the PCR test. Meanwhile, district administration issues approval to travel for those who don’t have a fever with the stipulation that they quarantine at home or in a local quarantine facility when they arrive.
According to the Kakarbhitta police office 1461 Nepalis have returned via this border since the lockdown was lifted on 21 July.

Text and Photos: Parwat Portel @photo.kvt7
Edit: Mallika Aryal @mikaness

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