Manohara squatters demand citizenship

Kathmandu, September 21

Squatters of the Manohara Sukumbasi Basti have demanded that they be granted citizenship. They claimed that they were deprived of facilities provided by the state and were facing difficulties in enrolling their children in schools due to lack of citizenship.

Rima Baral, 35, doesn’t know where she was born and only remembers that her mother died when she was seven and father when she turned 10. She was brought to Kathmandu for work. It’s been 14 years that she has been living with her children after her husband left her.

“I don’t remember where I was born and this has created difficulty for me in acquiring citizenship,” said Baral, adding, “All I want is to enrol my children in school. Since my husband has also left me, I don’t know how I can acquire citizenship.” Like Rima, Subhadra Neupane of the same squatter settlement also wants to acquire  citizenship certificate in the name of her father and mother. However, ward secretary of Nuwakot, where she was born, refused to recommend her citizenship as she is married and has three children.

There are more than 200 squatters in the settlement. “Most of the squatters living here were street children earlier. Most of them do not know their parents and have no knowledge of their birthplace,” said Bhagwati Gautam, a woman rights activist.

“The constitution has guaranteed citizenship right to all people born in Nepal. However, people living in this settlement have been deprived of citizenship,” said Gautam.

“Nearly 4.3 million people are deprived of citizenship in the country. Around 50 cases have been filed in the Supreme Court demanding citizenship,” said Meera Dhungana, an advocate and added that the provision on citizenship in the new constitution needed amendment.