My father is an Indian, my mother Nepali and I’m a “stateless” child: Apsana Khatun

My father used to work as a tailor when he met my mother. Both fell in love and got married. To fall in love was itself an unusual act in our society and that too with an Indian Muslim was close to impossible. Their love story went fairly smooth without any interruption by any family members; they fell in love in Kathmandu, married in Delhi, came back to work in Kathmandu and then finally settled here. Now they have three kids, me and my two younger brothers.

I hardly remember going to my father’s house in Delhi. They say I was only two years old when they last took me there. Both my brothers haven’t visited my father’s home place. In fact, it’s been almost 24 years since my family has gone back to Delhi.

I was born and raised here in Kathmandu. I was born in one of the houses in Bhimsenthan where we still live. When I was ready to appear for the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination, I was asked a birth certificate for the first time. Without hesitation I received a certificate from the local municipal body. I knew that it would ease the process to get my citizenship later. Even the municipality staff suggested the same. But it was totally a false hope that they’d given. My application for citizenship has been ignored numerous times without any convincing reason. The reason behind the denial was that my father was an Indian.

Just like any one in our patriarchal society, I too kept my surname after my father’s which is Khatun. For me being a Khatun is like having a normal surname just like any other people. I still remember being harassed by my friends for being a Muslim when I was a kid but I haven’t been treated badly in my adolescence.

The fact that I am being denied a citizenship makes me think if I made a mistake by taking on my father’s surname.

But immediately after this thought passes my mind, another bitter reality strikes me hard reminding me that there’s no place for a mother’s identity in this society.

I researched everything and anything I could, to find out a place for mothers whose identity has been erased. I even flipped pages of law books to check if being a mother is really valuable in this society. I read line by line over and over again to check and recheck if I was really deprived of that right by the constitution. The Constitution of Nepal clearly states that I can obtain a citizenship. It states that in its Clause 11, (2) (b), that a person whose father or mother was a citizen of Nepal at his or her birth is eligible. It gives me hope to compete for it. I have done everything that I could. I have xeroxed my documents more than ten times to give it to the lawyers and agents who assured me that I would get a citizenship certificate. Of course nobody could get me one. One agent even asked me for a bribe of 60,000 rupees. I told my parents about this and my parents almost gave him 1, 20,000 rupees to make two certificates, one for me and one for my brother. But we ended not wanting to get citizenship illegally.

I have been everywhere like a fanatic in search of a citizenship. I know my parents must have been worried seeing me worrying about it. They could only calm my angst and do nothing more. Like me, they too have knocked every door. I am definitely desperate for it. I had to let go of many opportunities because of this very reason. I can’t even ride a bike as I don’t have a license. My mother owns land in this country but how is she going to pass it over to her children even if she wants to?

My fight is definitely to get a citizenship by birth through my mother’s name. I feel I should stand firm.


There is also a clause in the constitution which makes me eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalization. It says any foreign national of full age and capacity may submit an application to obtain Nepali citizenship if he/she can speak and write in Nepali, if he/she has resided in Nepal for at least 15 years, if he/she has a good conduct and character, and if he/she is engaged in any occupation in Nepal. I do match all the provisions asked by the constitution. I fluently speak, write both Nepali and Newari. I have lived in this country for more than 25 years now. I believe I have a good conduct and character and every month I pay taxes to this government too. If this government wants me to apply for this category, I could. But I am not a foreign national. I don’t have an Indian citizenship. I never considered myself an Indian.

But this society is cruel. It keeps telling me that I am Indian because of an Indian father and because my mother is a Nepali woman, her identity doesn’t count.

I was in a relationship for seven years with a Shakya guy from the Newar community. We were all set to get married. For seven years my partner didn’t have any problems with me. He would always support me saying, “You are still a daughter from a Newari mother which undoubtedly makes you a Nepali.” When we started to talk about marriage, his family denied meeting me, even once. They found out that my father was a Muslim. They even prevented him from seeing me. It was a painful moment when I heard about his marriage which would take place with another girl whose parents were both Nepali. Later, his marriage celebrations took place a couple of blocks away from where I live. It broke me into pieces and tore me apart. Before he got married he used to console me saying, “Your parents are inter-caste and inter-national, which is even better. I will convince my parents anyhow”. But it seemed like the whole country itself has not accepted it till now.
I am twenty-six now, which is a common age for a girl to get married in my community. I might marry soon. And once I get married to a Nepali guy, I know I will be qualified enough to apply for the citizenship of this country.

This constitution gives more credentials to a Nepali man than a Nepali woman despite holding the same citizenship certificates.

My husband, a Nepali man, will be the person who will liberate me from this crisis.Though this might be a way out for me, I wonder how my brothers are going to fight for it.

I have fought lots of battles which I have lost. But I still feel independent and am able to face numerous upcoming fights for my rights. If I ever get a citizenship through my to-be-husband, I am sure I would consider myself a humiliated Nepali throughout my life.


story & photos contributor: Bikkil Sthapit

17 thoughts on “My father is an Indian, my mother Nepali and I’m a “stateless” child: Apsana Khatun”

  1. When lines and borders mean more than the truth of the heart… this is what happens. A world without borders…. a world where u can choose where you belong …. that is my dream.

  2. I never though that there is also another person born to foreign father and Nepali mother like you who is doing their best to get the citizenship of Nepal. I thought most of them leave Nepal and seek for their father’s nationality whether he is an Indian or American. Nepal allows first class citizenship to the person whose mother is foreigner and father is Nepali but the same constitution says a person born to Nepali mother and foreign father may get naturalised second class citizenship. But naturalised is not the right, we can get or may not. Till now no one has got. The law has given supreme power to Nepali man that he can immediately pass citizenship right to his foreign wife. That woman is not from Nepal but can be citizen of this nation immediately after marriage but children like you and me who were in the womb of the citizen of this nation are denied from nationality right. Brahminist rulers says children like us are’Bhanjabhanji’ and can be threat for our own nation but the 100% foreign woman who was not born in Nepal, who has no biological relation with Nepal can easily get.

  3. It’s so full of shame that still we have to fight for our basic rights in Nepal.She was born in Nepal, her mother is Nepali so obviously she is eligible for Nepali citizenship but to my wonder why she is being denied for that basic right.Constitution is for the people not vice versa.

  4. I’m a male but can’t stand such discrimination. It’s a shame that a country with cultural diversity, history would not allow any woman or a girl have their fundamental or universal right. On the surface it looks as though we’re past our heavy influence of our long-standing patriarchal society as evidenced by our female President. It’s just an illusion. We’re still under its shadow. It stands to reason that you will consider yourself a humiliated Nepali just like any other victims alike. Such is the reality of our government and society-ineffective and hypocritical as always.

  5. This is idiotic. You are as much Nepali as I am or any other Nepali in that case. I am deeply ashamed!

  6. Believe me sister you might think that if you marry nepali citizen you will get nepali citizenship but you wont.I am in your similar situation. Indian dad , newar mom , married to nepali citizen. I went last year to get citizen based upon being married to nepali , but when they saw my dad is indian in my birth certificate , they wouldn’t process my application.

  7. You are a true Nepali, Apsana, just like me, and all the other Nepalis. The law might treat you differently, but we won’t. You are our sister.

  8. Thanks so much for providing individuals with such a nice opportunity to read articles and blog posts from this web site. It really is so cool and also full of a great time for me and my office peers to search your web site a minimum of three times per week to learn the fresh items you will have. And of course, I’m certainly astounded with all the astounding secrets you serve. Certain two facts in this post are truly the most suitable we have all had.

  9. Thanks for sharing your story. My mother is Indian and my father is Nepali so I relate to a lot of the cultural resemblance you talk about. I had no idea how difficult the process of obtaining citizenship from Nepal was. I will need to ask my parents how my mom and we gained Nepali citizenship.

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