CHITWAN, Jan 1: Kul Bahadur Bohara of Ayodhyapuri in Madi, Chitwan has turned 20 and also has a year old son. But he is still has not been able to acquire citizenship as his parents did not register their marriage.
Kul Bahadur´s mother Jaumaya Bohara had married police personnel Lok Bahadur Bohara while he was posted at the Chitwan National Park some two decades ago. But Lok Bahadur neither registered his marriage with Jaumaya nor took wardship of his son.
“I was abandoned after my mother eloped with another person when I was a child. I pity myself as I belong nowhere,” said Kul Bahadur. Lack of citizenship has also made it difficult for Kul Bahadur to find a job. “I am not even in a position to apply for foreign employment,” he added.
Similarly, Motika Gurung, 18, of the same village shares a similar story. Bhoj Bahadur Gurung of Lamjung, a policeman deployed at the Chitwan National Park, married Motika´s mother and fathered two daughters. Bhoj Bahadur never came back to take the stock of his family after he got transferred from the park.
“He had contracted us once from abroad after retirement. But he never returned home. If he had helped us get citizenship, it would have been a lot easier for us to earn a living,” said Motika.
“I have citizenship certificates of my husband. But the VDC refused to register our marriage,” said Deumaya Sarki of Gunjanagar. Deumaya´s husband Deep Bahadur Khatri, a job holder at the National Park, left her 14 years ago. Accompanied by her father in-law, Deumaya sought citizenship for her son but was returned empty-handed as the district administration demanded the boy´s father to appear in person.
According to a survey conducted by CoAction Nepal, 111 women and 166 children living in the villages near the Chitwan National Park are stateless as their fathers remain unknown. A total of 17 women and children have acquired citizenship after winning a legal battle, while another 23 women acquired citizenship after getting married.
According to Executive Director of CoAction Nepal, 94 percent of the people facing difficulties in acquiring citizenship lack information and proper documents.
According to Sanjeeb Raj Regmi, judge at the Chitwan District Court, the legal provisions regarding citizenship through mother´s lineage is still unclear.