By Ram Khatry I 28 April 2020 I Nepalese citizens caught up in Australia express disbelief and frustration as Oli government allows Nepal Airlines to fly back empty while they are dying to return home to their anxious families.
A Nepalese cricket trainer currently in Melbourne says his government is “mocking” its citizens stranded down under. “We are dying here to return home and they are flying empty planes? What is this?” Anil Adhikari questions.
Mr Adhikari claimed he even spoke to Nepal’s tourism minister Yogesh Bhattarai when a Nepal Airlines aircraft was due to arrive in Brisbane on April 2, requesting him to allow people to return on board that flight. “But they are all passing the buck to each other,” Mr Adhikari says referring to his conversations to both Nepalese politicians and the Nepalese embassy in Australia.
A Nepal Airlines aircraft flew back completely empty on April 2 within hours of it arriving in Brisbane with hundreds of Australian citizens and permanent residents evacuated from Kathmandu. Another NA flight is due to arrive in Sydney on May 6. Both were organised by the Embassy of Australia in Kathmandu. In addition to the Nepal Airlines chartered planes, Australians were also flown out of the Nepalese capital in a Qatar Airways flight.
Nepalese caught up in the country are painfully aware of the efforts the Australian ambassador in Kathmandu and his team have made in ensuring that Australians return home safely, thanks to social media. They pitch that sense of “responsibility” of the Australian government towards its citizens with the “utter carelessness” of their own.
“I know so many that need to fly back to Nepal really, really badly. Some have run out of their prescription medication, some have urgent reasons to get back home while some others have sick family members,” said journalist Hemanta Kafle, who also happens to be the president of the Australian Nepalese Journalists Association (ANJA).
Mr Kafle said people would have taken it easy if it was a case of Nepal government not being able to evacuate its citizens due to lack of resources. “But how come they are flying empty planes whereas thousands are stranded here?” the Setopati correspondent questioned the intention of the Nepalese government.
Most tragic is the story of heartbroken parents who lost their 23-year-old son in a gang fight late last month, southasia.com.au understands. Amit Karki died in a Sydney hospital after being gravely injured following a brawl between two groups of young Nepalese men.
The Embassy of Nepal in Canberra was contacted for a comment on why the national flag carrier was returning empty whereas so many of its Nepalese citizens remained stranded in Australia but was not heard from.
“They are just busy doing dirty politics, that’s all they are doing. They have no concern whatsoever for their fellow citizens,” Anil Adhikari expressed his frustration, “Australia is rescuing its citizens right in front of us while Nepalese planes fly all the way back to Kathmandu without any passengers on board. They are just making some sort of mockery. They are laughing at us!”
One of the 200 plus men and women evacuated from Kathmandu earlier in the month, an Australian entrepreneur of Nepalese origin, said it was “shameful” that Nepal government has not evacuated its citizens despite the fact that its national airlines was right here in Australia. “They could ask the passengers to pay for their quarantine and air tickets if cost was stopping them from taking them back,” he added, requesting anonymity.
Mr Adhikari said he is about to take some desperate measures to draw the attention of his government. He has already written to MP Peter Khalil. The cricket official was due to return to Nepal on April 13.