SARLAHI, May 30: Officials of the Area Administration Office (AAO), Harion, have been accused of asking for bribes from the service seekers to issue citizenship certificates.
Bishnu Bhujel of Lalbandi Municipality-6 made rounds of the AAO for five days to obtain the citizenship certificate of his wife. Though Bhujel had fulfilled all the legal procedures, officials asked him to pay Rs1,500 "for the process." He was told that if he paid the money, he would be able to obtain the citizenship certificate immediately but if he didn't, he would have to go through a lengthy process of submitting more documents. Later, Bhujel had to complain to the mayor of Harion, Ganesh Prasain.
On Thursday, the AAO had written a letter to the Area Police Office (APO) to provide a public inquiry report to Bhujel for the citizenship certificate of his wife. On the basis of that letter, Lalbandi Police provided a public inquiry report to him. On Monday, when the couple reached the AAO, they were told to submit a copy of the report to the District Administration Office (DAO), Sindhuli, where Bhujel's wife was born.
"First, they told us to go to Sindhuli to submit the copy to the DAO," said Bhujel, adding," So, I asked them why were they troubling us so much and they told us that we won't have to go to Sindhuli if we paid Rs 1,500."
He laments that in the beginning, officials were not ready to provide them the citizenship certificate though they had submitted all necessary documents but later they were ready to do it if paid the bribe. "Why do we have to face so much difficulty to get citizenship certificate despite being Nepali citizens?" he questioned.
After Bhujel's complaint, Mayor Prasain went to meet Kumar Thapa, chief of AAO, Harion at his workstation. The AAO immediately forwarded the process of citizenship after the mayor's visit.
Mayor Prasain also informed Republica that this was not the first time he had received a complaint against the officials of AAO. "I have been receiving repeated complaints that the officials have been asking for bribe from the service seekers," said Mayor Prasain, adding, "But now we have urged the authority to strictly prohibit the staffers from bribery."
However, AAO chief Thapa claims that it was not the officials but the owner of the Fax service who had asked for the money. "I have strictly told the officials to perform their work lawfully," said Thapa.