Unemployment forcing people to leave home on eve of festivals
Dashain is considered the festival of family reunion and happiness. But contrary to this general assumption, on the very first day of the Dashain today, a noticeable number of people were seen crossing the Gaddhachauki and Gauriphanta checkpoints along the Nepal-India border in Kanchanpur. The decision to go away from the families during the festival was not their free will, but for financially supporting the family.
Those people who had returned home from India due to COVID-19 crisis are leaving home on the eve of the festival. “It is not our will to leave the family when the Dashain has already begun. But it is for managing a two-square meal. When one has no job, no sufficient food to eat, the festivals are longer important for them, it brings no happiness, but gives pain, instead,” said Raj Bahadur Budha Aeir of Dadeldhura who was found on Thursday heading towards Shimla, India for jobs.
He arrived home six months owing to the rising infections of COVID-19 (second wave). Back to home, he was jobless and the days throughout these months were challenging for him. As he said, people like him are leaving home on the eve of the festivals when COVID-19 infection is seemed to have slowed down.
Keshab Joshi from Darchula who was among those in the line heading towards India on Thursday has a more painful story to share with. He lost his family member to COVI-19, so he has no Dashain celebrations this year. More, he has no way to join the labour market in India to manage basic needs of the family. Similarly, Dhana Devi Rawat of Doti said that she is unhappy while leaving home in Dashain festival. Rawat shared, “Dashain celebration has begun in everyone’s house. Poor people neither can get happiness nor comfort.”
Assistant Sub Inspector at the Area Police office, Gaddachauki, Jeevan Gurung, said that more than 100 Nepali migrant workers went to India via Gaddachauki today, the day of Ghatasthapana. ‘Though the number of Nepali migrant workers returning home from India is increasing, even the Dashain festival has not stopped the people leaving home for India”, he opined. Gurung shared that they have increased vigilance to curb possible criminal activities during festival.
He added as per the data of the past one week around 250-600 Nepali migrant workers leave the country for India on a daily basis. Three hundred seventy people went different cities of India for employment via Gaddachauki and Gauriphanta check points on Wednesday alone. Police have also brought passenger help desk into operation at border points to facilitate passengers.
Similarly, people continue to enter India through the Dokebazaar transit point here on the eve of the Dashain festival. Chief of the Dokebazaar Police Post, Sub-Inspector Deependra Thapa said although the trend of going India via this transit has decreased it has not completely stopped.
“Nepali citizens go towards India using this transit generally in the evening. The record shows that 111 persons went towards India through this transit point only on Wednesday,” he said, adding that more than 900 people have been entering the country from India via this point. As he said the number of those coming on festival leave is increasing as it is festival time and the movement of people through the transit has been somewhat eased at present.