Rights activists have urged the Parliament to pass the citizenship bill to end the sufferings of many eligible citizens who are not able to avail state services due to lack of a new federal citizenship law.

A citizenship bill registered in the Parliament three years ago, remains stuck in the parliamentary panel due to lack of consensus among political parties and a new ordinance that was brought by the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government to grant citizenship, mainly to children of citizens by birth, also has been stayed by the Supreme Court.

Chair of Nepali Ekata Samaj Bimala Tamang, who assists landless people, said many landless people had not been able to obtain land ownership certificate because of lack of citizenship certificate. She said many landless people who migrated to different places long time ago were being told by government authorities to go to their birth place to obtain citizenship.

"But many landless people had left their birth place decades ago and if they went to their birth place now, nobody would recognise them and assists them to get a recommendation letter from their ward office for their citizenship," she argued.

Addressing an interaction organised by Forum for Women, Law and Development today, Tamang said the government was intentionally not giving citizenship to eligible citizens.

Project Officer of Alliance Against Trafficking in Women and Children in Nepal Karuna Maharjan said many women victims of human trafficking, who gave birth to children were facing difficulties obtaining citizenship for their children in the absence of the identity of the fathers of their children. She said many women who had lost their husband were also not being assisted by their husband's siblings and parents to obtain citizenship because the husband's family feared they would have to give a share of property if she obtained her citizenship.

Programme Manager of Women for Human Rights Rajin Raymajhi said many poor eligible citizens were not able to acquire citizenship because of lack of money.

"One has to go to the District Administration Office to obtain his/her citizenship and in the case of poor people, this becomes a problem because they do not have money to go to district headquarters," she added.

Programme Officer of CI- WIN Bimala Tiwari said that many street children were not able to receive COV- ID-19 vaccine due to lack of citizenship. Project Coordinator of Biswas Nepal Kamal Sapkota said many women who had not been able to obtain their citizenship were working in the entertainment sector, but they were exploited by society due to their vulnerability.

"Women, who work in the entertainment industry, cannot easily rent a room and they feel compelled to have a live-in relation with boys. When they become pregnant, their partners, who have given false identity run away from such women," she added. She said children of citizenship less women live in limbo for two three generations.

Advocate Binu Lama of FWLD said that six types of people - single women, women who have returned from foreign employment, landless people, street children and human trafficking victims - were at risk of being deprived of citizenship.

All the rights activist who spoke at the interaction urged the government to pass the citizenship bill immediately.

She said rights activists had lobbied the government to list a question to count people who have not been able to obtain their citizenship, but the government agency did not include the question in the list.

A version of this article appears in the print on November 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.