The people of Susta in Parasi, the district in Province 5, have been denied citizenship and it means that they have been deprived of state facilities as well.
The Susta rural municipality-5 (then Triveni Susta village development committee -4) is home to 3,133 populations; but only 256 individuals have the Nepali citizenship and most of them have acquired it on the basis of descent.
Under this situation, their children have also become the stateless because they have no legal ground to pass citizenship to their offspring.
These people who have been residing here since years and years and a limited number of people took the citizenship while a government mobile team had been there in 2063 BS to distribute the citizenship. A large majority of Susta people could not visit the camp to seek the citizenship as their struggle for territorial right with the Indian side had already begun.
Their days were spent in fighting for territorial rights against the atrocities of the Indian side.
“We got no time to proceed for the citizenship when our right to land and housing was under threat due to the high handedness of the Indian side. At the time the Indian side started to seize our land,” said Save Susta Campaign treasurer Nurja Begam (Laila).
“Protection of our land from the encroachment on by others was our first priority, we believed that would remain the citizenship of Nepal only if we could able to protect our land from encroachment by Indians. Since the 2063 BS, no government team had been here for the citizenship.” The local administration representatives now said that they held no right to issue the citizenship.
She went on to say that the people, who were ever ready to die for the nation, had been neglected by the state. She herself does not have the Nepali citizenship.
Susta that lies on the Nepal-India border is frequently gripped by bilateral territorial disputes.
The Susta locals said that they welcomed country’s big political leaders, prime minister and ministers and listened to their assurances of addressing their issues, but no assurance was implemented into action. As they told the people continued to fight for Nepali territory without caring for personal lives have neither land nor the citizenship in the end. “The state does a great injustice to us.”
The Susta locals have not been able to avail of the state facilities as they do not have the citizenship certificates. They are facing problem availing the old-age allowance, the grants provided by the government and credit from banks for setting up enterprises for lack of citizenship certificate, vice-president of Save Susta Campaign and local leader Adam Khan said.
He added that the people of Susta were the real patriots who have been protecting the Nepali border from being encroached by Indians but it was pity they still do not have the Nepali citizenship with them.
Khan complained that many locals in Susta area have also not been able to register the land they have been tilling for many years in their names for lack of citizenship certificates although their land has been demarcated by the Ministry of Land Reform and Management after carrying out a survey and erecting a border pillar on the Nepal-India border.
The government has issued the land-ownership certificates for 556 bigha land after carrying out survey and demarcating the land in 1973.
More than 14,000 hectares out of the total 40,980 hectares land in Susta has been encroached upon, it is stated. The Nepalis do not have the land-ownership certificate of the remaining land also.
A majority of the Susta people are facing plethora of problems due to the lack of citizenship certificate and land-ownership certificate provided by the state. But they are hopeful that now they will get the citizenship certificates thanks to the new provisions on granting citizenship as provided for in the new constitution of Nepal.
Chief of the Susta rural municipality Ram Prasad Pandey said not only the Susta people but the people across the country have been facing problem as the state stopped issuing citizenship certificate on the basis of birth.
He expressed the hope that the people of Susta who still do not have citizenship certificate would be provided the certificate with the new constitution making provisions for the same and new citizenship laws being formulated by the parliament.
“It would be difficult for the district authorities to identify the nationality of the people before as many Indians used to come to the area daily from across the border with India. But now the local people’s representative elected from the rural municipality ward where Susta lies can identify the people from the area and so can recommend for citizenship certificate.
One has to cross the Narayani River by boat from Paklihawa to Susta or has to take a longer dirt route from Triveni barrage via Bhainsalotan and Bhedihari of India through forest.