News Digest (July 30 – August 5, 2020)

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News Digest

(July 30 – August 5, 2020)

Domestic Politics

Nepal Communist Party (NCP): The152 members of the Central Working Committee of NCP demanded a meeting to settle the ongoing dispute within the party as soon as possible.[1] The members who submitted the written statement for the same are close to the Nepal-Dahal faction of the party.

Leaders close to the Nepal-Dahal faction suggested Bamdev Gautam to back down from his 6-point deal, saying it will not solve the internal crisis. Gautam seemed reluctant to back down.[2]

After five days of complete cut-off in dialogues, Oli and Dahal met on August 2, 2020, to discuss the ongoing matter; the discussion continued on August 3, after which Oli visited his personal residence in Balkot. The dialogue, however, yielded no outcome and remains at a standstill—with Oli refusing to discuss subjects other than his resignation and Dahal now pressing for a solution through standing committee and/or central committee meeting.[3]

PM Oli refused to join the August 4 standing committee meeting, also stating that he will not agree on the central committee meeting either.[4]

A secretariat member of the erstwhile NCP (Maoist) declared the re-establishment of a 31-member central committee of the NCP (Maoist) under his leadership. Accusing the NCP of being embroiled in the game of power and money, he expressed the necessity of the move in respecting the wartime mandate of the Maoists.[5]

PM’s Oli’s appointment of the controversial agent, Sushil Bhatta, as the CEO of the Investment Board has invited a fresh displeasure within the ruling NCP. Even the party leaders, including Dahal and Jhalanath Khanal, expressed their concern to PM Oli that such an appointment of a corrupt, black-listed agent tarnishes the image of the party. Meanwhile, the opposition Nepali Congress is silent on the issue.[6]

Nepali Congress (NC): Nepali Congress-affiliated professors and students padlocked the central administrative office of Tribhuvan University due to dissatisfaction over the key officials’ appointment. Evading the customary practice, the ruling party/government did not consult the opposition, Nepali Congress, for the first time in years.[7]

Deuba’s unilateral moves to form several party departments and appoint members close to him, allegedly in an effort to influence the upcoming party convention, has worsened the feud between the two NC factions, one led by him and the other by Ram Chandra Poudel.[8]

Despite the protest from the Poudel faction, Deuba moves ahead towards forming more departments and appointing coordinators. He has already established 20 departments and is likely to form ten more.[9]

In a discussion with the experts held on August 4, NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba recommended the government to increase testing capacity, improve quarantine facilities, make the use of mask mandatory, etc. He also stated the importance of expert consultation in the effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic.[10]

COVID-19: With the COVID-19 crises worsening in Province 2, the Samajwadi lawmaker Pradeep Yadav was tested positive for the virus.[11]

The Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal (JSPN)’s president Mahantha Thakur urged the government to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity.[12]

Governance

Experts advise PM Oli to re-impose lockdown, issue curfew if necessary: On August 4, experts suggested the government to re-impose lockdown or issue curfew orders to ensure that the pandemic is kept in check. As the number of cases is increasing rapidly, especially in Kathmandu, a complete lockdown as well as increase the number of tests and active contact tracing was suggested for the valley. Opposition leader Deuba said that the decision to re-impose a lockdown could be decided after considering the ratio of community transmission of COVID-19.[13]

Health Ministry orders COVID Committee to enforce public health guidelines in hotels and restaurants or shut them down: The Health Ministry on August 3 requested COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre to either ensure physical distancing at hotels and restaurants or close them down. The Ministry’s request comes amid a spike in the number of Coronavirus cases in Kathmandu Valley. Hotels, restaurants, and roadside eateries have been considered as potential infection hotbeds.[14]

Resumption of domestic flights on August 17 in doubt: With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, especially in areas bordering India, the resumption of domestic flights is still unclear. Earlier, the government had planned to operate flights in all sectors following safety protocols, but due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the government has been forced to reconsider, particularly the destinations that pose a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.[15]

CIAA staffer infected with COVID-19: Fifteen employees at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, mostly police personnel, tested positive for the Coronavirus. After the infections were reported among the employees, the building housing the police personnel has been sealed. This outbreak among the police personnel comes just a few days after a similar outbreak was reported in the Nepal Police headquarters.[16]

International Relations & Foreign Policy

India refuses reports stating Nepalis forbidden from entering disputed territories: There were reports that the Indian authorities have colluded with the Darchula police to prohibit Nepalis from entering Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Gunji. Indian authorities have dismissed such news and said the news floating in Nepali media is ‘fake’. Furthermore, Indian Dharchula’s sub-district magistrate added that India has more grave issues to handle at the moment.[17]

PM Oli committed to one-China policy: On August 1, Nepal-China celebrated 65th anniversary of the two nations diplomatic ties. On the occasion, PM Oli congratulated the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang and expressed commitment to the one-China policy. Moreover, PM Oli reiterated China’s respect towards Nepal’s sovereignty, regional territory, and its political freedom.[18]

India increases security at Kalapani: India has reportedly doubled the security at the border along Dharchula to Kalapani. As per the media reports, hundreds of SSB vehicles and army have been deployed at the border areas, which is primarily to increase surveillance. Indian security is also accused of having misbehaved with the locals while constructing the Tambaku road towards Nepal. A local shared that India has been extending the road along the border area.[19]

Security

COVID-19 and peopleCOVID-19 national tally crosses 21,000 with 58 reported deaths: A 45-year-old man from Morang died at on July 29 while undergoing treatment in Dharan. He was admitted after experiencing breathing-related difficulties and fever.

Six people died in Birgunj of COVID-19. Four men: 70-year-old, 68-year-old, 56-year-old, and 35-year-old, and a 68-year-old and 18-year old women from Birgunj succumbed Coronavirus.[20] [21] [22] A 65-year-old woman from Birgunj, who was living in Lalitpur, died at Patan Hospital,[23] whereas a 77-year-old male from too passed away from COVID-19.[24]

Hospitals in Kathmandu are crumbling under the pressure of increasing cases: Hospitals in Kathmandu have been overwhelmed by the rapid spike in new cases in the valley. According to reports, all the beds and intensive care units available at hospitals allocated for COVID-19 patients are occupied, and one patient must be discharged for another patient to be admitted.[25]

Lack of equipment creating problems for first responders during disaster rescue missions: Every monsoon, different parts of the country are hit with floods and landslide incidents, and as per the Nepal Disaster Risk and Management Act-2017, local federal units undertake the task of disaster management. However, local authorities have complained that while the rescue team, consisting of Nepali police, armed police, and Nepal army, maybe trained for such rescue operations, they experience a shortage of equipment. This becomes more of an issue when the incident has already taken place, but the rescue team fails to reach on time due to unfavourable geographic and weather conditions.[26]

Gender, Social Inclusion, Human Rights, and Migration

freedom from suppressionEvacuation of migrant workers: A total of 1,017 migrant workers including two dead bodies, were brought back on August 1 under the fourth phase of repatriation in six flights from the United Arab Emirates. Alongside, domestic flights to Solukhumbu, Surkhet, Dolpa, Lamjung and Biratnagar were conducted.[27]

Kuwait continues to ban Nepali migrant workers: Despite the decision to withdraw travel restrictions in Kuwait, it continues to ban citizens of seven countries, including citizens from Nepal. This restriction has primarily affected the workers who had returned on job breaks, and the workers otherwise willing to go for foreign employment.[28]

Migrant workers return to India: Migrant Nepali workers who had returned from India have now begun to go back to India due to lack of food and jobs back home regardless of the threat of contracting COVID-19. Nearly 1,600 Nepalis departed to India in the month of Shrawan. With the increase in the number of workers returning to India, Indian authorities have mandated to show ration card to enter India.[29]

Acquittal of police officers involved in evidence tampering: On July 30, Court gave a clean chit to all the eight police officers accused of engaging in evidence tampering and custodial torture in the 2018 Nirmala Pant rape and murder case.[30] However, this is a rare case where the complainant, the mother of the deceased, is happy about the verdict as she claims to have been under pressure to file a lawsuit against the police officials.[31]

Human Trafficking persists to rise: Girl trafficking continues to be a problem for Nepal as the traffickers have made the most of open borders to take girls to India as well as to the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia. Forty-one Nepali citizens were rescued from various parts of India during the pandemic. In recent days, trafficking is camouflaged with foreign employment.[32]

Chepang youth’s body sent for an autopsy: Raj Kumar Chepang died on July 22 allegedly due to injuries from torture in army detention in Chitwan National Park. On August 2, his dead body was sent to Kathmandu for autopsy. However, army officials refused to accept the accusations of torturing and inflicting injuries upon Chepang youths while they were detained. The father of the deceased has asked for an impartial investigation of the case.[33]

Provincial and Local Governments

Coronavirus: The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) designated 14 hospitals in Kathmandu Valley to collect swabs for suspected patients with Coronavirus. The tests will be done for free, and swab collection and centres will operate daily from 9 am to 1 pm.[34]

On August 3, a meeting of the Corona Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) decided to impose a curfew for three days in Nepalgunj after 30 Coronavirus cases were found in a single day. The District Administration Office (DAO), Banke requested everyone to stay inside and come out only during an emergency.[35]  

On August 4, an all-party meeting of Province 2 decided to set up 500-isolation beds as required in districts. The meeting also decided to install RNA extraction machine in the provincial lab at Janakpurdham and tighten the border. Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut also committed to instructing the concerned bodies to implement the decisions related to Coronavirus control immediately.[36] Apart from this, Province 2 imposed a restriction order in major cities of six districts after increasing cases of Coronavirus.[37]

On August 5, Katari Municipality in Udayapur district decided to close its market area to control the risk of the spread of Coronavirus.[38] 

After public pressure, Chief Minister of Province 1 Sherdhan Rai declared to expand PCR tests in the province. Three months ago also, the provincial government had claimed to conduct 1,000 tests per day, but it has been performing only 450 tests.[39]

Disaster: On August 2, a meeting of the Council of Minister held in Karnali Pradesh decided to supply food items for three months for the families of disaster victims. Similarly, the government also decided to provide Rs 100,000 to those whose houses were completely damaged by floods and landslides.[40]


[1] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2020/07/30/as-ruling-party-standoff-continues-over-150-members-demand-central-committee-meeting

[2] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/48227/2020-07-30

[3] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/48560/2020-08-04

[4] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2020/08/886901

[5] https://deshsanchar.com/2020/08/05/393480/

[6] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/48623/2020-08-05

[7] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/07/30/congress-aligned-professors-students-padlock-tribhuvan-university-office

[8] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2020/07/31/deuba-s-unilateral-moves-lead-to-polarisation-in-congress-as-party-gears-up-for-general-convention

[9] http://annapurnapost.com/news/162887

[10] https://deshsanchar.com/2020/08/04/393207/

[11] https://ekantipur.com/news/2020/08/01/159622004030589127.html

[12] https://ekantipur.com/news/2020/08/04/159653912826221534.html

[13] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/reimpose-lockdown-issue-curfew-order-if-necessary-strictly-implement-security-protocol-experts-to-pm-oli/

[14] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/08/03/enforce-public-health-guidelines-in-hotels-and-restaurants-or-shut-them-down-health-ministry-tells-covid-committee

[15] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/august-17-resumption-of-domestic-flights-in-doubt/

[16] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/08/04/15-commission-for-investigation-of-abuse-of-authority-staff-mostly-police-personnel-infected-with-coronavirus

[17] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/india-rejects-prohibiting-nepalis-entry-to-kalapani-lipulekh-limpiyadhura-and-gunji/

[18] https://english.khabarhub.com/2020/01/116514/

[19] https://english.khabarhub.com/2020/04/117321/

[20] https://kathmandupost.com/health/2020/07/30/nepal-reports-three-more-covid-19-related-deaths-and-274-new-cases

[21] https://kathmandupost.com/health/2020/07/31/with-four-more-deaths-nepal-s-covid-19-toll-reaches-56

[22] https://english.khabarhub.com/2020/05/117421/

[23] https://kathmandupost.com/health/2020/08/02/nepal-reports-one-more-covid-19-related-death-and-246-new-cases

[24] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/nepal-logs-one-more-covid-19-fatality-death-toll-reaches-58/

[25] https://kathmandupost.com/health/2020/08/04/kathmandu-hospitals-overwhelmed-by-covid-19-patient-surge

[26] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/08/02/when-disasters-strike-police-are-the-first-responders-but-they-are-severely-ill-equipped

[27] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/1017-nepalis-brought-home/?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR0PG3WgtkZOmkuhNrK_KLihuqYUUJ3sxzIpx75a_On4lf0Es-7eeT_L8Fw#Echobox=1596343832

[28] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/08/01/kuwait-lifts-covid-19-travel-bans-but-nepalis-still-not-allowed?fbclid=IwAR0W3pRaEXpUWAFcsNm1wTEmmaMmBhE8qg0bbZmAzfDMGE2p5bqlZgU22mY

[29] https://risingnepaldaily.com/featured/nepali-migrant-workers-start-returning-to-india-amid-covid-19-threat-in-lack-of-job-at-home?fbclid=IwAR2BWkk0sqX7LA2NNtMmTuM1Mo1rtq6LVb4NK1adLyb3z-z-maHmSRpayqE

[30] https://english.onlinekhabar.com/nirmala-pant-murder-court-acquits-sp-bista-seven-other-officials.html?fbclid=IwAR3x3-56zDpM1QfeMGe3cnakgTES2fxefQSmVtISwl7QP0vIILUJRISFp30

[31] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/i-was-forced-to-file-a-case-i-now-feel-exempted-of-that-guilt-durga-devi/?fbclid=IwAR1_ifTOCpk-Og8ulKO8INtJd8ipkgwYmWIm7jrHVWMKTldL0BIqFJ97eWA

[32] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/07/30/porous-border-poor-interception-and-changing-forms-continue-to-enable-human-trafficking-to-flourish?fbclid=IwAR3Fl4BRu3XQnZKQFuvHMuGY8PmrdH1yBY8xd7aLQ641Z0Sce4z1-NzCmlk

[33] https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-3/2020/07/27/body-of-chepang-youth-taken-to-kathmandu-for-postmortem?fbclid=IwAR1msJ89lZERIPFI9OfO3mGAajfRxZEhezuONscYkTk2huC-5wlB5Q5KK00

[34] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2020/08/886921

[35] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2020/08/886348

[36] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2020/08/887025

[37] https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-2/2020/08/04/province-2-steps-up-prohibitory-orders-after-increase-in-covid-19-cases

[38] https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-1/2020/07/30/katari-bazaar-in-udayapur-closed-due-to-the-risk-of-coronavirus-infection

[39] https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-1/2020/08/05/shortage-of-vtms-squeezes-pcr-testing-in-province-1

[40] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2020/08/886464

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