One man’s quest to prove he is alive and to undo his death on recordsSubhash Tamang has been running around from one government office to another to reclaim his citizenship and his identity after he was pronounced dead in Saudi Arabia.
Subhash Tamang, aged 39, has been running from pillar to post for the past three years to prove that he is alive and not dead as declared by the registration of death certificate he holds.
Subhash, a native of Shadananda Municipality in Bhojpur, lives in Belbari Municipality in Morang, with his wife and two children.
He had gone to Saudi Arabia in 2003 on foreign employment.
He was declared dead in 2015 while in Saudi Arabia after he and his three friends had a car accident on July 10 of the same year.
Two of his friends were pronounced dead immediately while Subhash and Tejendra Bhandari of Dhorpatan in Baglung, were airlifted to Abdul Aziz Hospital for treatment.
Bhandari died the next day at the hospital while Subhash went into a coma.
However, a representative of Hyundai, the company Subhash and his friends were employed with, identified a body at the hospital as that of Subhash’s. The hospital prepared his death certificate with the company’s representative as a witness.
The dead body was sent to Nepal 28 days after its identification.
“I was called to claim the body after it was sent to Nepal,” Subhash’s wife, Santoshi Tamang told the Post, “We took the death registration certificate issued by the local authorities in Bhojpur to collect my husband’s body. We conducted his final rites at Laxmimarga in Belbari.”
Three months after the family received the body and conducted his funeral rites, Subhash, who was still at the hospital in a comatose state, regained his consciousness.
According to his nephew Bhupal Tamang and brothers Bhawindra and Amar Tamang, who were also in Saudi Arabia in 2015, they were called to the hospital to see their relative.
“Subhash’s face was bandaged but when the doctors removed his bandages, we recognised him immediately,” Bhawindra told the Post.
“That’s when we realised that the body sent to Nepal three months ago was not my brother’s,” he said. “I called back home and told our family that Subhash was alive. It was later established that it was Bhandari’s body that was sent to Nepal. ”
After a year and a half of treatment for his injuries, Subhash was sent back to Nepal by his employer.
“Since then I have been telling the government authorities in Nepal that I am alive and that it was a mistake to have declared me a dead man,” said Subhash.
“I went to the Home Ministry after the rural municipalities and district authorities turned me away citing their inability to rectify the error in the official documents since it was out of their jurisdiction,” he said.
The Home Ministry directed him to the Chief District Officer of Morang Koshhari Niraula.
“The Chief District Officer sent me back last week saying that my documents are not in order,” said Subhash, “I am alive and right here, what more proof do the authorities need?”
His previous citizenship certificate was issued by then Kudakaule VDC in Bhojpur on 12 June 2003.
Subhash says he has been living in limbo since his return to Nepal with no citizenship certificate or any other national identification that can prove him alive.
According to the District Administration Office, the absence of legal recourse to issue citizenship to someone in Subhash's situation has led to a stalemate.
“There is no legal provision which allows us to re-issue citizenship to someone who has been declared deceased on government records,” said Koshhari Niraula, Chief District Officer of Morang.
“However, we have informed the Department of National ID and Civil Registration about Subhash's quandary,” said Niraula. “Hopefully, they will be able to annul his registration of death and re-issue his citizenship certificate soon.”
Meanwhile, Shadananda Municipality in Bhojpur and Belbari Municipality in Morang have issued certificates to Subhash stating that he is alive.
Subhash now wants to start anew and move on in life. He wants to go abroad to earn some money but without his paperwork, he hasn’t been able to apply for jobs.
After his original citizenship and passport became null and void with the registration of his death, Subhash now awaits reversal of his fate.
“I came back to Nepal and followed up with all rituals associated with new births. I had a naming ceremony at my parents’ house in Bhojpur to undo my death. I even went to Laxmimarga to bring back my wife and remarried her,” said Subhash. “I want to move on and be able to live my life as any living Nepali citizen but the government authorities are not doing anything to help me.”