Surkhet, May 13
The people of the Raute community who live a nomadic life in the jungles have been deprived of their right to vote in the local elections this time around as well. Although Gurans Rural Municipality of Dailekh had distributed temporary identity cards to the Rautes four years ago, the members of the community have not received citizenship certificates.
“The municipality had assured us that we would get citizenship certificates,” said Mahin Bahadur Shahi, chief of the Raute community. “If you don’t have citizenship, you can’t vote,” Mahin said. Although they receive allowances on the basis of the temporary identity cards, they have not yet obtained citizenship certificates. Currently living in Kushe village of Jajarkot, the members of the community ask everyone who passes through the area on the topic of voting.
“The local polls are underway. It would have been good if we, too, had been allowed to vote. If only the people who provide us with allowances also allowed us to vote in the elections,” Shahi informed Republica. There are currently 148 members in the Raute community.
As they do not have the right to vote, no candidate of any political party came to the Raute community to seek votes. The main concerns of the Raute community are social security allowances and forests. The Raute community, which earns its living by selling wooden utensils, is also worried that their rights will be taken away with the election. “We could have rejoiced if the candidate we could have voted for won. Maybe, they would also listen to our demands after that,” said another chief, Bir Bahadur Shahi.
The Raute community has demanded their right to cut wood in the forests and social security allowances not to be affected, whoever wins the local polls. “Whichever party wins, we should be able to cut the wood with confidence and be able to get the allowance at the end of every month,” said Bir Bahadur.