Two elected ward chiefs on the run for the past three months on fake citizenship chargeAdministrative, as well as development, works affected because of the absence of ward chiefs in Birtamod and Bhadrapur municipalities.
Two elected ward chiefs of Birtamod and Bhadrapur municipalities in Jhapa district have been out of contact for the past three months, affecting day-to-day administrative and development works.
The people-elected representatives, Ajaya Karki and Shanilal Rajbanshi, were elected ward chairman of Birtamod-8 and Bhadrapur-9 respectively in 2017.
Karki and Rajbanshi went out of contact immediately after the District Police Office (DPO) issued an arrest warrant against them for recommending 16 non-Nepali people to acquire Nepali citizenship certificates three months ago.
Besides the ward chairmen, the DPO has issued arrest warrants against 46 others, including two ward secretaries and six employees at the District Administration Office on the same charge.
Because the two representatives have been on the run, the development works in their respective areas have been greatly affected, with local people being deprived of various services from the ward offices.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mahendra Kumar Shrestha, six suspects have been arrested so far while 42 others are still at large. The search is on to find the absconding, he said.
“Sixteen people were provided citizenship certificates by producing fake documents in collusion with the ward chairmen, employees at the district administration office and some locals, who presented themselves as the fathers of the recipients of the citizenship,” said Shrestha.
Seventeen people, according to Shrestha, verified those 16 people who were trying to acquire Nepali citizenship by producing fake documents. The DPO is preparing to file a case of ‘organised crime’ against all the suspects.
After they were accused in the fake citizenship case, Karki and Rajbanshi went out of contact soon by providing acting rights to the ward members. Police say that Karki handed over the acting rights to ward member Dipak Bhattarai on June 23 and Rajbanshi delegated the acting authority to ward member Ram Prasad Dahal on July 9 before absconding.
The ward office of Birtamod-8, however, is operating without a secretary as well because the secretary too has been charged with the same crime. For the time being, Subas BK, the secretary of Birtamod-9, is performing works of Birtamod-8 as well. “It has been quite difficult to work in the absence of a directly elected ward chairman. The local people are disappointed because the representatives they chose to flee after committing such a serious crime,” said BK.
The acting ward chiefs, however, claim that they are trying their best to provide services to the locals even in the absence of the ward chairmen.