Bill brings hope of citizenship: Satyendra Prasad Gupta, 38, (left) of Bara with his mother Sudhamadevi (center), children and younger brother Birendra (right). Pic by Updendra Lamichhane
By Updendra Lamichhane in Nijgadh, Bara
This has become the most controversial bill in recent times and was endorsed by parliament last week with an overwhelming majority. That was first time when a bill was passed with a majority instead of consensus after the restoration of parliament in April. Some people say this bill will endanger Nepali nationalism by giving citizenship to foreigners (read that Indians) where as supporters opine that the bill will grant a chance to those hundreds of thousands of Nepalis who had to live in their own home country without the status of citizen and were deprived of various opportunities because of not having the citizenship certificate. Amidst this debate, implementation of the bill has started (government has decided to speed up the process of formulating regulations) and many in Madhes are celebrating. Here is a report, published in the Kathmandu Post, from Bara:
Satyendra Prasad Gupta, 38, from Jitpur of Bara is in an euphoric mood since Sunday. It’s the Citizenship Bill passed by the House of Representatives that day which has brought joy to this man from the Madhesi community.
The Bill has great meaning in his life: He can now claim citizenship of this country. “I faced many obstacles in my career due to lack of citizenship,” he said, adding, “Hope my kids will not meet the same fate; hope they will be eligible for jobs, business or other work like any other ordinary citizen of this country.”
Satyendra, who was born in Nepal and has been staying here ever since, was deprived of a citizenship card just because his father was a citizen through naturalization. His mother Sudhama Devi, who was born in Jitpur, married an Indian national. They stayed in Nepal after marriage. Satyendra could not acquire citizenship on the basis of his mother’s citizenship. The Bill ratified on Sunday will make him eligible for citizenship as a child born of a Nepali mother. He still has to pass through some stringent procedures though.
“I used to feel very bad being deprived of citizenship rights even though I was born in this country,” said his brother Birendra, adding, “Now, with the new legal provisions, we are upbeat.”
Dinesh Sah from Chorni of Parsa district, whose situation is similar to the Gupta family’s, is equally glad with the new provisions. His mother was a Nepali citizen by descent while his father acquired naturalized Nepali citizenship. Dinesh was, however, denied citizenship.
Likewise, Amrit Raut and Malati Devi, who have three sons, are all smiles. “Our sons, who are in the age group 30 to 40, were denied various opportunities due to lack of citizenship,” Amrit said, adding, “Now, they can prepare to compete for any opportunity.”
The Madhesi community in Bara, Parsa, Rautahat and other districts have welcomed the new law, and organized various programs to celebrate. “This is a decision taken by the loktantrik government in favor of the madhesi community,” said Ganesh Prasad Sah of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (A), Bara, adding, “This will help solve the citizenship problem for thousands of madhesis.”
Meanwhile, reports from Saptari, Udaypur, Bardiya, Sarlahi and other districts state that eight political parties and other people are celebrating the government’s landmark decision.