Pokhara, December 17
Pushparaj Rimal, a visually impaired teacher at Amarsingh Namuna Secondary School recently visited Amarsingh branch of a bank in order to open an account.
Although a master’s degree holder, he, returned home despondent as he was told that he was required to identify himself as an illiterate person to acquire a bank account in his name.
Two other visually impaired teachers of the same school—Kushal Poudel and Bishnumaya BK managed to open their accounts only upon declaring themselves illiterate on paper. The visually impaired duo, however, will not be able to use a cheque or withdraw money from their account unless they have an aide with them as per the terms and conditions.
In yet another case, visually challenged assistant professor Shreekanta Sapkota at Prithvi Narayan Multiple Campus, went to a Naya Bazaar branch of a bank with the hope of getting a loan in order to acquire a plot of land. However, the bank manager, an acquaintance, informed him that he could only be granted a loan in the name of his mother.
Bishnu Khanal of Syangja, a permanent teacher at the Belchauta-based Jana Kalyan Secondary School of Tanahun, too faced a similar fate. The school teacher was recommended to close his account.
The victims have since then expressed their ire and dissatisfaction, “What is happening to us is out-and-out discrimination, so we will seek legal action for this,” they said.
Nepal Association of The Blind central member and Information Technology Department Chief Khomraj Sharma bemoaned the discrimination the visually impaired people were facing at several banks. “In my case, I’ve an account with a bank and an ATM card issued in my name somehow, but there are many others like me who have not been able to open bank accounts,” he said.
Machhapuchhre Bank’s Legal Adviser Tika Bhattarai when contacted, responded,”Regarding the issue that we need a witness in case of blind people is for the security of both the bank and the concerned persons.”
However, Nepal Rastra Bank Pokhara Director Chiranjivi Chapagain condemned any discrimination against the blind in opening a bank account as the citizen of Nepal and pledged action if banks are found guilty.
A version of this article appears in print on December 18, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.