The kuensel story on the pertinent issue of the south, citizenship and census, comes at the time of PDP president campaign in Dorokha. That was not the story when DPT candidate from Dorokha, Thakur Singh Powdyel and PDP candidate Tek Bahadur Subba spoke in common forum on June 20.
Dorokha residents who gathered to listen to the PDP president, Tshering Tobgay, rolled up their sleeves to ask about the census limbo they have been facing since 1990, unresolved so far. This was the major concern of all people as the dubious citizenship status of many families has prevented them from taking various facilities and opportunities for the children.
“The census issue was raised soon after Tshering Tobgay reached Dorokha on June 23 after walking for four days from Haa”, writes kuensel.
He tried speaking to the people in their native language, Nepali (called Lhotshamkha in Bhutan) but resented that he did not have a good command over the language and switched to Dzongkha.
People from far flung villages of Dorokha came to listen the former opposition leader bundling up their gho and kira, walking for several kilometers.
The kuensel quoted one I B Rai having said, ‘ because the people do not have required “papers” they faced obstacles everyday how hard they study or worked.’ It is true that these unlucky folks are simply ostracized from participating in national sphere of life or at least try to enter a decent job to fend for themselves.
BNS tried to contact some in Dorokha but many refused to talk on the matter for fear of reprisal. Requesting anonymity one resident gave a picture of the citizenship and census issue in all southern districts, the matter remaining same all through these years and decades.
He said, “this time we took the bold step to raise the problem with Tshering Tobgay, since the DPT candidates and the president do not bother to listen to us.”
He added, “There are many people whose land has been lying fallow for years as the ownership of land is disputed because of the census of either the buyer or the seller. In some cases the seller is already out of the country, so no chance of registering the land. Even marriage between the families of F1 census and F5 census has caused the problem to aggravate. So we are not very happy about what is going on.
Asked if the villagers are making up their mind to approach the king, he said, “We have only one hope, that is on His Majesty. I think HM will come to our rescue.”
Tshering Tobgay try consoling the voters saying, “The government cannot grant citizenship but it can facilitate the process which, however, is not done. If PDP is voted to form the government, we will take your problems to the state and facilitate in getting your citizenship.”
Tshering Tobgay is no less a demagogue than Jigme Y Thinley. And, it is the time of election when such persisting problem are taken to discussion, but no follow up takes place once the government is formed.
Another area of people’s concern in Dorokha the PDP president tried to address was the compensation to those who lost land to Amochu Hydropower project. But, the condition is, ‘if’ PDP forms the government.
Census issue was raised in Chengmari (Norbugang), Sibsoo, Phuesntsholing and Gomtu. Tshering Tobgay went on to offer prayer at local Shiva Mandir in Chengmari, an approach to appeal his voters, similar to what most politicians in Nepal practice.
A large chunk of the attendees of such meeting with politicians in the south are not eligible voters or having no right to vote because of census issue.