Nepal on Friday relented to accept its 26 nationals belonging to Tablighi Jamaat, stuck up in Uttar Pradesh's Bahraich district amid the COVID-19 lockdown, through the Rupaidiha border after refusing to take them back through that border for the last two days, said officials on Friday.
Bahraich Superintendent of Police Vipin Mishra said Nepalese authorities had been refusing to take back these 26 Tablighi Jamat members primarily because they had participated in a religious meet at Nizamuddin in New Delhi in March, attended by nationals of many other countries, who were later found coronavirus positive, they said.
They are being sent today. They were being denied access earlier primarily because of their participation in Delhi markaz, said Bahraich Superintendent of Police Vipin Mishra on Friday evening.
Nepalese authorities had been refusing to accept their 26 Tablighi Jamaati members for the last two days through the Rupaidiha border despite taking back 2,738 of their other nationals through the same border during the period, when India received its own 2,811 citizens stuck up in the neighbouring country, he said.
The Nepalese nationals who were allowed access to their country through the Rupaidiha border belonged to Nepal's districts like Bankey, Dang, Bardiya and Rukum adjacent to that stretch of the international border, the SP said.
But they had been refusing to take back their Tablighi Jamaat members, insisting that they do not belong to its districts adjacent to Rupaidiha border and had been asking Indian authorities to repatriate them through other stretches of borders adjacent to their respective districts.
The 26 Tablighi Jamaat members, however, had been insisting upon the authorities of both countries that they hail from Bankey district in Nepal across the Rupaidiha border itself, the SP said.
The matter, however, was sorted out at higher level and the Nepal authorities eventually decided to accept these 26 Tablighi Jamaat members as well, the SP said, adding they are expected to be taken back by late evening on Friday.
The SP also said the Nepalese officials of the bordering districts are not cooperating during this hour of crisis and are not willingly taking back their citizens, stranded in India.
They also do not respond to phone calls or WhatsApp messages, he said, adding that for contacting them, we have to send our SHOs and this is delaying the exchange of people stranded on both sides of the border.
Earlier during Wednesday and Thursday, India and Nepal exchanged over 5,500 of their nationals stuck up in the two countries amid the COVID-19 lockdown through the Rupaidiha border, he said.
Prior to that, 1,800 citizens were exchanged including 1,074 Indians and 723 Nepalese.
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