Children of citizens by birth who have not been able to obtain their citizenship due to lack of new citizenship law have urged lawmakers to pass the new citizenship bill immediately to end their misery.

At an interaction organised by Forum for Women, Law and Development, Qassim Ansari, 23, of Nawalparasi (West) said his father was eligible for citizenship by descent, but government officials gave him citizenship by birth. Due to that error, he has not been able to obtain his citizenship. He said he had pursued technical course after completing 10+2, but could not get any job. Now he is compelled to work as a daily wager in India along with his father. " My father has a loan to repay and I want to help him, but I don't have the job I deserve," he lamented.

He said around 3,000 people from his village in Nawalparasi (West), who had not been able to obtain their citizenship, staged sit-in at the rural municipality twice and submitted memorandum to the district administration office. However, nobody has addressed their problems. Ajay Poddar, 24, a resident of Morang district, said he kept switching jobs due to lack of citizenship. "I lost a job yesterday because I could not produce my citizenship certificate. Many people wonder why I change my job frequently. I cannot tell them my story," he said.

He said Indian border police did not allow him to come from Jogbani border due to lack of citizenship certificate.

"When I try to travel on train in India where I pursued my study, I fear that I might get arrested anytime by the railway authorities," he said.

Indrajit Saphi, 28, of Dhanusha, said he could not take entrance exam for two years after completion of 10+2 exams. After two years, he went to India to pursue engineering degree.

Now, even after passing the BE Civil Engineering course, he has not been able to get license or job due to lack of citizenship.

His parents have acquired citizenship by birth. Saphi said he was detained twice in New Delhi for not possessing identity card. "It was only after I showed my college certificates that I was released by the police in India," he said, adding, "I had to always buy train tickets in my friends' names to travel in India."

Executive Director of Forum for Women, Law and Development Sabin Shrestha said that rights activists and stateless people needed to work together to file a case in the Supreme Court and continue building pressure on the government.

Shrestha said FWLD had carried out a study on citizenship issue by analysing the 2011 census. Out of 600,000 people who reach the age of 16 years every year, the home ministry has been issuing citizenship to only around 400,000 people. "This means 200,000 people have not been able to acquire citizenship every year," he added. He said the number of people without citizenship could have reached 6.3 million by now. He said despite their efforts, the Bureau of Central Statistics did not list questions related to citizenship in the new census drive that started last week.

According to Shrestha, people who are eligible to obtain their citizenship but are yet to obtain it due to lack of new citizenship law must file a case at the SC seeking compensation for their lost opportunity due to lack of citizenship.

A version of this article appears in the print on November 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.