However, in a new twist, the Nepali media quoted Jalim Miya as admitting that he himself took 15 of the Nepali Muslims from his village to the mosque in Birganj on 1 April on instruction of Parsa police. They were later sent home after their tests came out negative.
Jalim Mukhiya is a member of the ruling party, and is himself from the Jamati sect that had held a gathering in Saptari in February.
In a conference call with seven provincial Chief Ministers on Saturday Prime Minister Oli warned that since the COVID-19 epidemic was spreading in India, the lockdown may have to be extended beyond 15 April. The government announced that Province 2 will get an additional 1,600 Armed Police Force personnel to patrol the border.
Lockdown limbo in no man’s land, Deepak Kharel
India has reported 827 new cases in the past 24 hours, with 31 additional fatalities. The total number of confirmed cases in India now stands at 8,356 and 268 have died so far. Of these 452 cases were in Uttar Pradesh with five dead, and Bihar saw a doubling of cases to 63 since Friday, with one death. The other Indian state bordering Nepal has 35 cases. Most of the infected in India have been in Maharastra, Punjab and Kerala.
Compared to its huge population of 1.3 billion, the numbers are small, but public health experts fear that crowded living conditions could be an incubator for the disease. India’s nationwide lockdown has been credited with keeping numbers down, and the curfew which is in effect till Tuesday is probably going to be extended till the end of the month.
If that happens, Nepal’s own lockdown is probably going to be extended by a similar period. Nepal has already extended the ban on international flights till at least 30 April.