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Nepalese women face caste reality

THEY COME from a casteless society. But, now Nepalese women with Indian husbands living in the border districts are having to encounter the vagaries of caste. Why? Because they wish to contest the urban local bodies? election.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2006 01:48 IST

THEY COME from a casteless society. But, now Nepalese women with Indian husbands living in the border districts are having to encounter the vagaries of caste. Why? Because they  wish to contest the urban local bodies’ election.

Since the Nepal Government does not issue caste certificates, the women planned to contest the election on the basis the their husbands’ caste. 

But, the State Election Commission (SEC) has upset their applecart. The SEC, in its order, has said that women who fail to produce caste certificates will have to contest the election as general category candidates.

Thanks to a porous border, Indo-Nepalese marriages are common. A large number of Nepalese women married to Indian men are settled in districts bordering Nepal, including Maharajganj, Siddharthnagar, Bahraich, Lakhimpur Kheri and Pilibhit. The women are married to forward caste, as well as backward caste and Scheduled Caste men. 

These women planned to contest elections to posts of Nagar Panchayat Parishad chairperson and Nagar Panchayat member. During scrutiny, returning officers found that the Nepalese women had attached caste certificates of their husbands with the nomination papers.

The puzzled returning officers contacted the SEC for its advice. An inquiry revealed since the Nepal Government did not issue caste certificates, these women were left with no choice, but to file their papers on the basis of their husbands’ caste.

The SEC has directed the district magistrates that all such candidates who fail to submit their caste certificates will have to contest as general category candidates.

They will not be allowed to file nomination papers for seats reserved for Scheduled Caste or backward caste candidates.

The SEC also clarified that candidates adopted in childhood cannot contest the election on the basis of the caste of their adopted parents. The caste of their natural parents will be considered.