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Stranded Indians evacuated from Bhutan through Jaigaon border

Stranded Indians evacuated from Bhutan through Jaigaon border
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Darjeeling: Owing to the ongoing lockdown in Bhutan, more than 3,500 residents of Bengal, mainly from the Alipurduar district have been stranded in the Himalayan country for the past 6 months. The district administration, led by the Alipurduar MLA, has initiated an evacuation drive in a phased manner. The process was initiated on Tuesday.

Bhutan is observing a stringent lockdown. Since the past 7 months the border (Bhutan gate) at Jaigaon in the Alipurduar district has remained closed. With no jobs at present, many migrant workers are stranded in Bhutan. Around 150 odd stranded persons, mainly migrant workers returned to Alipurduar from capital Thimpu and Paro on Tuesday.

Alipurdual MLA Dr. Sourav Chakraborty, who has played a key role in facilitating their return, was present at the border town of Jaigaon on Tuesday. 4 North Bengal State Transport Corporation buses were pressed into service to transport the returnees to their

destinations.

"After I received instruction from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to help them return, I started getting in touch with them in Bhutan. Most of their cell phones were working. It was a coordinated exercise with the help of the Government of Bhutan. We thank the Government of Bhutan. Most of the stranded person are from North Bengal districts. The first batch of returnees are all residents of this district," stated the MLA.

He further stated that the district administration and police have been relentlessly working for the past ten days to ensure a smooth return. "We express our gratitude to the MLA and the district administration for ensuring our safe return. I have been stranded for the past 9 months" stated Muhammad Rafiqul.

More than 2200 stranded persons have filled up registration forms expressing desire to return. A migrant worker stated that he had not received wages since the past two months. "Life had become very difficult. Things were very costly. I thank the West Bengal Government for bringing us back," added Papun Das, a migrant worker from Alipurduar.

"We will ensure that they return soon," added Chakraborty. Covid-19 tests were conducted on their return at Jaigaon.

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