By Hari Koirala, Kanepokhari, Aug. 8: Old age and poverty. Oh, what sufferings they have created for 75-year-old Bhim Bahadur Rai of Chhathare, Kanepokhari Rural Municipality – 7, Morang.
Rai, who came to Terai from Basikhora, Bhojpur after the death of his wife, is looking for help. He is old, sick and living in the house of his only daughter Anu.
Rai spent his entire youth working. Every waking moment, he spent in labour. He never took a break, never attended festivities and was never able to apply for citizenship.
As a result, today, when he cannot work, he has no support; when his body no longer supports him, he is stateless. Today, when he is helpless, the state is not there to support him.
Without citizenship, he is deprived of his old-age allowance. Rai also can’t see and has multiple heart-related ailments.
“We have nothing in our name but this house,” Rai’s daughter Anu said. “We took the father to the hospital by collecting money from the villagers. But that money was not enough so we had to bring him back.”
People with millions of rupees are still able to get old-age allowances but the destitute senior citizens that truly need the money are deprived of it in lack of citizenship, complained local activist Kiran Chemjong. “None of the three levels of government is sensitive towards the struggles of the poor.”
The Nobel Medical College treats the voters of Morang constituency No. 3 at a discounted rate. It also offers free treatment to the poor. But one must mandatorily produce their voter card to access this service. Rai does not have a citizenship certificate so he cannot obtain a voter card.
Meanwhile, Kanepokhari Rural Municipality also provides free health insurance to economically disadvantaged individuals. Rai is extremely economically disadvantaged but he has not received health insurance.