The situation in neighbouring Bajhang is no different. When he heard that his neighbours Dhan Bahadur Sunar and Pyaru Sunar were among the Category C poor, Gagan Badi was surprised because they are his employers.
“How can this happen? They are landowners, since when were they poor? Maybe they paid off people to be declared poor,” said Gagan Badi, visibly irate.
The Badi community in Bajhang are often victims of loan sharks who charge exorbitant interest, doctor documents and forge signatures. Yet, they are now ‘poor’, while the farmers they exploit are not on the list. In fact, four landless Badi families who beg on the streets are not in the list.
The abuse of the poverty list is widespread in both districts. Rana Bahadur Kathayat heads the Bajhang District Post Office, owns a four-storey house in Chainpur, has his own vehicle and property. But he is listed as Category C poor.
“I don’t understand on what basis they collected the data,” says Municipality chair Akkal Dhami, “the rich people are listed as poor while the poor are not listed.”
Principal Wakil Bahadur Singh of Bannichaur School is the richest man in the village. He owns houses in Mahendranagar and Dhangadi and property in Kathmandu, Kanchanpur and Bajhang. He is Category A.
It became so embarrassing that Bungal Municpality has stopped the distribution of IDs for the poor. “All the rich people from here have been enlisted as Category A, it is a travesty,” says Mayor Dhan Bahadur Bista.
Other local bodies in Bajhang have also held back ID distribution. Barka Rokaya, Chair of Khaptad Chhanna Municipality said IDs will be handed out only after a through verification of the beneficiaries. Says Govind Malla of Himali Municipality of Bajura district: “The list has excluded the poor people. It is dominated by well-off people. We will correct the list.”
Additional reporting by Basant Pratap Singh in Bajhang for Centre for Investigative Journalism- Nepal.
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