Surkhet quiet as lockdown in effect even in Raute settlement
Kathmandu - Prakash Adhikari Surkhet, the capital of Karnali State, is quiet after the government announced a lockdown for prevention of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Also known as Birendranagar, Surkhet, was deserted on Wednesday, the second day of the lockdown, after the people were ordered to stay indoors except for very essential works.
However, the police administration had a hard time enforcing the lockdown on Tuesday, the first day of the lockdown, as the citizens were found unknown about the lockdown that had been implemented for the first time with the issuance of the Infectious Disease Prevention Act, 2020. Police had to take four people under control for defying the lockdown orders after they started gathering. Similarly, the police had to also take some vehicles under control on the first day of the lockdown.
Chief of the District Police Office, Superintendent of Police Dilli Raj Panta said the situation was normal on the second day after some people and vehicles were taken under control on the first day. "Some people and vehicles disobeying the lockdown orders had to be taken under control on the first day. The second day lockdown was effective.
The problem on the first day was also because people did not have full understanding of the concept as such," he said. The police have been requesting the people by megaphone not to come out of their homes except for emergency work. All shops but those selling essential goods are shut. Although the government has urged groceries and tea shops to open, most of such shops in Birendranagar are closed. The consumer rights activists have expressed worry that black marketeering and unethical trade practices might occur, creating artificial shortage, with the closure of most of the shops selling essential goods, vegetables, fruits and medicines. Consumer rights defender Aakash Tara Bayak said the administration should ask the shops selling daily essentials to open by adopting safety measures against coronavirus. Rautes also under lockdown Meanwhile, the Rautes who are a nomadic tribe have also been under lockdown here in Surkhet.
People from other communities are restricted from visiting the Raute settlement on the bank of the Chhinchukhola rivulet at Sattari, Bheriganga municipality in the district. The Raute community which usually roam forests from one place to another have recently settled at Chhinchukhola bank. Municipality's mayor Bhupendra Bahadur Chand said they have restricted the movement of Rautes outside their settlement and also barred people from the rest of the communities from coming to the Raute settlement to prevent COVID-19 infection from spreading.
According to him, the municipality's employees have been explaining about the situation and why the lockdown was warranted to the Rautes who follow the instructions of the Mukhiya, the tribal head. The municipality has mobilised health workers to teach the Rautes sanitation including washing hands with soap.
It is said the Rautes take bath only one time in a year and practice open defecation, hence at higher risk of infection. The Rautes make wooden utensils and barter the same with food grain in the market for livelihood. They also hunt wild animals in the forests. The indigenous Raute community is endangered and has a population of only 150 people at present.