KATHMANDU, JULY 21
Thousands of people residing in Nepal who are eligible to get Nepali citizenship have not been able to do so as the new citizenship law has been stuck in the parliamentary committee for the past three years.
Indrajit Saphi of Dhanusha district is one such case. He is eligible to get Nepali citizenship by descent, as his father is a citizen by birth and his mother is a citizen by descent. Both his grandparents are also Nepali citizens.
Saphi completed his engineering degree from India's Kurukshetra University in 2019, but has not been able to obtain his certificates since he doesn't have a citizenship certificate.
In an interaction organised by Forum for Women, Law and Development, Saphi said he was the eldest of his siblings and was supposed to take care of his family, but was in no position to do that. "I was selected for some engineering jobs, but could not join due to lack of citizenship certificate," he added.
Saphi said he and other Nepali citizens who were in a similar situation were planning to stage a sit-in in front of the Parliament building. He said he was worried about his three younger brothers who share his fate and were getting increasingly frustrated.
Bikas Nepali of Chitwan has a similar story. He was abandoned by his father when he was six months old. He tried to get citizenship as his mother is a Nepali national, but the District Administration Office refused to issue him a certificate. When his mother died, he wanted to inherit land owned by her, but due to lack of citizenship certificate he has not been able to do that. Even his wife has not been able to get citizenship, though both her parents are Nepali. When she went to the DAO, officials sought his citizenship to determine her eligibility for Nepali citizenship.
Anjali Sah, a resident of Sarlahi district, is also eligible for Nepali citizenship as her father is a citizen by birth and mother a citizen by descent. She said she had not been able to go abroad for higher studies due to lack of citizenship. "I cannot even apply for Public Service Exams due to lack of citizenship," she lamented.
Yabesh Adhikari of Kathmandu, Arjun Sah of Mahottari, and Chandan Mukherjee of Dhanusha recounted similar tales of woe as they have not been able to obtain citizenship on the basis of their mothers' nationality.
Executive Director of FWLD Sabin Shrestha said thousands of Nepali citizens whose rights had been protected by the constitution were being rendered stateless due to lack of a new federal law. He said 146 members of the dissolved HoR moved the Supreme Court when their constitutional rights were violated, but they had not been doing anything for the past three years for people who were eligible for Nepali citizenship, but had been denied of the same. He said the Supreme Court had set a precedent but the district administration had not been following it in citizenship cases. Shrestha said that as per Article 304 of the constitution, a new citizenship law had to be enacted by 2018.
Shrestha demanded that the state compensate all those who were eligible for Nepali citizenship but had been denied the same.
A version of this article appears in the print on July 22 2021, of The Himalayan Times.