There were at least four major unofficial routes with heavy traffic. I still could not get a clear picture of why folks were crossing at these points and exactly what was being smuggled. In talking about the situation later with my team, I decided it was important to put some vaccinators on these unofficial routes. I was worried, though, about placing vaccinators on the smugglers’ routes. If the smugglers thought my vaccinators were trying to “take over their routes,” it could be dangerous for them. I needed to try and talk to the head smuggler if at all possible.
I said, “Let’s do this like we ask about rash-and-fever cases.” We could determine which teashops were on strategic roads and crossroads. Then we would casually drop the hint in our conversations with people in the shops and also with the chai shop owners that “the lady epidemiologist” wanted to talk to the smugglers. We would leave it vague. We would let them approach us. I didn’t think it safe to be any bolder in approach.
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