Jaya Singh Dhami’s case has once again invited tension between two neighboring nations, Nepal and India. There has been widespread public concern regarding the issue and that has mounted pressure on both the countries to initiate a probe into the case at the earliest regardless of the consequences that might bring a negative turn in the historic relationships of the two neighboring nations.
On July 30, Jaya Singh Dhami, 33, of Khaldang, Malghat was trying to cross the Mahakali river via tuin (improvised cable bridge). He would have reached Khalanga, headquarter of the district, and later he would have continued his journey to Kathmandu. As Dhami was trying to cross the swollen river Mahakali via cable contraption (commonly known as tuin), all of a sudden, he fell off to the river and disappeared.
A number of eyewitnesses were interrogated but the probe is still underway to trace the exact cause of the incident. While the eyewitnesses, who saw Dhami crossing the cable, blame Indian border security force Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) for dismantling off the cable, the Indian side informs that there was no such involvement of the SSBs. The collected information is conflicting.
If it is the case as published in media about SSBs involvement in the incident dismantling the cable, then it is a heinous crime that cannot be excused. It is a cruel and inhumane act. Governments of both countries should come up with strong steps against perpetrators.
While the dire situation in the district had compelled public like Dhami to choose improvised cable crossing (commonly known as tuin) to cross the Mahakali River during the monsoon amid the pandemic, on the other hand, Seema Suraksha Bal (SSBs) are assigned to restrict public movement in order to curb the virus. Despite the responsibility, there is no such law that results loss of life while following any rule or order.
There are more than 6,000 rivers and streams in Nepal and most of them lack bridges and people are bound to use cable contraptions to cross these water resources. The government statistics show that there are around 350 cable contraptions of which five are on the 1700-km Nepal-India border. Though the erstwhile government led by KP Oli lauded for removing cable contraptions within two years, the implementation part is a far cry. People are still compelled to use the risky way out to cross the fast-flowing rivers.
At the present scenario, instead of blaming each other for the tragic incident both the government of neighboring nations should initiate to locate the cause of the incident at the possible earliest and should provide compensation to the bereaved family.
As per the recent development by Monday, a team led by Janardan Gautam, Joint Secretary, MoHA, is flying to Darchula to investigate further about the tragic incident. Forming a team of five members, Home Minister, Balkrishna Khand has directed the committee to submit a report within 10 days of the incident.
The government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba should foster soon to remove cable contraptions and replace them with metallic bridges. Nepal’s government should realize with this incident the hardship faced by people from rural parts of the country where they are giving up their lives while crossing the rivers in order to fulfill their basic necessities. Each year, a heavy budget is allocated to build bridges but the budget gets disappeared in between contractors and vendors. On other hand, the government should approach the Indian government seeking its support in probing into the incident at the diplomatic level and initiate compensation.
Bipana Thapa is a Communication and Advocacy Officer in an NGO that works for rescue and repatriation of Nepali migrant workers.
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