Veteran Of British War Wants Nepali Citizenship

Contrary to the trend of Nepali youths seeking to migrate abroad, British national John Philip Cross, 90, had renounced his British citizenship 12 years ago in a bid to acquire a Nepali citizenship.

However, his desire has become a distant dream as concerned authorities have not yet issued him a Nepali citizenship. “My only wish is to be recognised as a Nepali national and be laid to rest here, in Nepal,” said Cross, who speaks Nepali like a native.

A World War II veteran, Cross had visited Nepal for the first time at the invitation of Padam Shamsher Rana in 1947, and was immediately enticed by the nature, respect and hospitality of Nepali people. According to Cross, his love for the country had further deepened during his visit in 1976 as the Chief of the British Camp.

Cross is currently residing at Nayagaun in Pokhara with his adopted son Buddhiman Gurung Dhampu. Although the late king Birendra Bir Bikram Shah had arranged for Cross’ stay in Nepal for as long as he wants, he wishes to remain in the country as a bona fide Nepali citizen, the one possessing a citizenship card issued by the government.

For the past 38 years, Cross has been visiting the District Administration Office (DAO) in hopes of obtaining a Nepali citizenship. He had even requested former prime ministers to provide him with Nepali citizenship, but to no avail.

Cross, also a philanthropist, has provided financial aid to schools in Kaski and Lamjung, while the JP Cross Basketball and Volleyball tournament sponsored by him is organised each year in Pokhara. Cross had also managed to distribute relief materials during the famine that had gripped the eastern side in 2008. Cross has been an assistant professor at Kirtupur and happens to be an expert in Nepali language. He has published 15 books on Gorkha army and its recruitment process.

Meanwhile, Cross has been invited to receive the award for the oldest war veteran of the Gorkha Rifles next year in India. However, without a citizenship certificate his travel remains uncertain. Even with some advising him to apply for a refugee visa, he denied the requests saying that he sees no reason to seek residency as a refugee in Nepal.

According to sources, a former home minister had taken the initiative to provide him with the certificate but the process stalled after change of government leadership. “The indifference shown by previous governments has denied him the certificate even though he has been living in the country for decades,” said Dhampu, pointing out that the various non-residential Nepalis were acquiring Nepali citizenship through illegal means. “He renounced his British citizenship and devoted his life to Nepal. The government should recognise him as one of us.”


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