Migrant Nepali workers likely missing in Uttarakhand floods

The number of Nepalis missing in the Uttarakhand flooding in India could surpass the estimated figure of 300, as the names of many working in the disaster-hit areas are not on the roster of missing persons.

Thousands of Nepalis, mainly from western Nepal, were working in Uttarakhand as porters, palanquin bearers and manual labourers. A majority of those reported missing in the June 16 disaster are pilgrims visiting the Hindu shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.

Him Bahadur Khadka, who hails from Sankha VDC-4 in Rukum, has been working as a palanquin bearer in the area for the past 10 years. He said around 7,000 Nepalis had procured permits to work as palanquin bearers  this season.

“I cannot imagine how many survived and how many were caught in the flood. Around 100 of our friends got swept away while trying to get across a river,” Khadka said. He claimed that the Nepali authorities have not shown any concern about the migrant workers who might be missing in the disaster.  Kul Bahadur BK, a native from Darmakot village in Salyan, said out of the 50 people from his village working as palanquin bearers, only him and a fellow villager, Lal Bahadur BK, returned home. “I witnessed many of my villagers and other Nepali friends drown in the floodwaters,” said Kul Bahadur.     The Nepali Embassy in New Delhi has submitted the names of around 100 missing Nepali migrant workers to the Uttarakhand Emergency Operation Centre.

It is learnt that at least 12,000 Nepalis were working in the flood-affected areas as porters and palanquin bearers.

Meanwhile, the Banke District Administration Office (DAO) has reported that 1,264 Nepalis have entered the country through the Jamunaha border point in the past four days. All of them arrived from Uttarakhand in the wake of the flooding.

Among them, only eight persons were pilgrims, while the remaining were migrant workers, said Basanta Kainijiya of the DAO.


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