Senior citizens in rural areas deprived of citizenship certificateWithout citizenship, people are deprived of job opportunities and social security allowances.
Mushe Bista, a native of Belharabesi in Dhankuta Municipality-9, is 75 years old, but does not have his Nepali citizenship certificate. Because he does not have the document, he has not been able to enjoy his ‘old age allowance’ and other facilities provided by the government.
Bista, who has his voter’s ID card, has been living with his brother, Bhim Bahadur. “My brother obtained his citizenship certificate many years ago, but I have been struggling to get mine. I have been frequenting the ward office and the local administration office for a long time now but I always come back empty handed,” said Bista.
Many people in rural areas, mostly senior citizens, still do not have citizenship certificates. Without citizenships, they are deprived of an education, job opportunities and social security allowance meant for the disabled, the elderly and single women.
Chandramaya Bista, 67, a woman of Dhankuta-9, has also been running from pillar to post to acquire her citizenship certificate. She said, “I have received a recommendation letter from the ward office, but the District Administration Office (DAO) did not give me my citizenship certificate.” According to her, the DAO officials turn her back citing incomplete documentation.
Kamala Dahal, manager of an old age home in Dhankuta, said that disabled and senior citizens staying at her home have not been able to make use of state facilities due to lack of citizenship certificate. “We have been taking initiatives to help them acquire the certificate so that they can enjoy these social welfare schemes,” she said.
For Dilip Gurung, 35, and his mother, living in Dhankuta for a couple of decades now, acquiring their citizenship certificates has been an uphill task. “Forty years ago, my parents migrated to Dhankuta from Okhaldhunga. Now we don’t know where to go to acquire our citizenship certificates,” said Gurung.
Manoj Raya, ward chairman of Dhankuta-9, accepted that many people in his ward are deprived of citizenship certificates. According to Raya, the DAO must first verify the documents submitted and only then grant the certificates--which is a long, tedious process.
Sudhir Safi, an administrative officer of the DAO, said that the standing rule is that an individual’s documents must be verified before issuing them their citizenship certificates; however, he also agrees that different cases must be dealt in different ways especially for the disabled and the senior citizens.
“The issue of citizenship is too complex. Some people in the municipality are living without their citizenship certificate due to lack of necessary documents,” he said.