Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Stateless or dual citizens?, Nagarik



Sources at the Election Commission say forged citizenships are becoming a huge problem in the Tarai. In 2006, the Home Ministry had distributed 1.2 million citizenship cards throughout the region.

Several complaints have been filed at the District Administration Office in Banke regarding fake citizenships. Five individuals have been found with cards with identical numbers. The DAO records also show that two different citizenship cards were issued in the name of Lalit Rauniyar, the vice-chairman of Tarai Madhesi Loktrantrik Party's Banke chapter.

In Jaispur VDC alone, the identity of 239 'citizens' is highly questionable. Bhure Jolaha and Raju Halwai who are from Nanpara, India are among the 524 people in Jaispur who received Nepali citizenships through birth. Although they don't own houses or property in Nepal, they were still able to register themselves on the voters' list. Having casted their votes in the state elections in Uttar Pradesh few months ago, Jolaha and Halwai are ready to vote in the upcoming elections in Nepal as well.

When officials from the Election Commission visited Jaispur last year to issue voters' registration cards, locals protested against the move claiming the cards were being given to 'outsiders'. Owing to the pressure, card distribution was halted for 18 months in Kapilbastu and Banke. But after immense pressure from Madhesi leaders and an agreement between top leaders everyone was provided with voter's cards.

People from across the border want Nepali citizenship because it is easier to get work permits for foreign employment on Nepali passports rather than Indian passports. Officials blame the faulty mechanism set up in 2006 as the root of the problem. Deepak Poudel, secretary of Jaispur admits that the fragile political atmosphere in the Tarai at that time led to issuing of citizenship certificates without proper documentation or investigation.

Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, on the other hand, is worried about the electoral implications of the huge number of fake citizens. "Having large number of people with forged citizenship can change election dynamics drastically. Also if this trend goes unchecked, many people in the Tarai will lose out on jobs and business opportunities to outsiders," he says.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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