The King of Bhutan, with implicit support and tacit understanding of the Govt. of India, dared to evict one hundred thousand bona-fide Bhutanese of Gorkha (Nepalese) and Sarchhop ethnicities from southern and eastern Bhutan representing about one sixth of the total population of Bhutan in the early 1990s with inherent intention of ethnic cleansing.
To conceal this heinous crime from the international community and to keep away from the true lawful bench of the world institutions, the Bhutanese rulers quickly labeled those evictees as economic migrants, terrorists, anti-nationals, illegal immigrants or Indians. So, it has become imperative for any legal institutions, rights defenders and the Bhutanese people to know from available historical and existing facts as to whether the claim made by the Bhutanese rulers bear any truth.
As Economic Migrants
No history can be written without truths in it. And the truths cannot be misrepresented by any hired writers to suit the interests of the rulers. However, we can derive the basic facts of history about Bhutanese people from its essence of origin. The Bhutias, forefathers of Drukpas, from Tibet started immigrating to this area; today’s Bhutan then ruled by India Kooch rulers in 7th century A.D and settled down here permanently. (BHUTAN by Nagendra Singh, 1978:19). Those Tibetan (Bhutias) immigrants were deeply attracted by the then flourishing economic condition of this Indian ruled area. So, history is very clear as to who are the real ‘Economic Migrants’ to this area now known as Bhutan.
As time passed by, the Bhutias ousted the Koch Rulers and their people. However, as a result of their unfair ruling system the economic condition of this area again gradually became deplorable. So the Bhutias here had to live in poor condition for centuries. It is due to the fact that “the northern Bhutanese disliked living in low lands and would not work in the lands by themselves” (BHUTAN AND THE BRITISH by Peter Collester 1972: 130). Even John Claude White noted, “The northern Bhutanese dreaded fever in the lower hills and avoid settling there”(BHUTAN AND THE BRITISH by Peter Collester 1972: 155). In such ruined state of economy of the then Bhutan, Gurkhas from the west started immigrating sporadically in the southern parts of Bhutan which was uncared, unoccupied, infested with malaria, wild animals and robbers. Gradually, the hard working Gurkhas tamed the land and cultivated in the area improving the economic condition of southern
Bhutan even when Bhutan was still labeled as the poorest country in the world. Thus Gurkhas never immigrated as economic migrants but as agricultural workers.
The acts of terrorism by the Bhutanese rulers in 1990s on Bhutanese citizens of southern Bhutan and in 1997 on eastern Bhutanese have been described earlier. Many people including foreign diplomats who visited Bhutanese refugee camps in eastern Nepal have acknowledged the history of horror these refugees had to go through before their eviction from their homesteads. But, so far, none of these foreign diplomats and International observers is heard of speaking about the undeclared terrorism unleashed by Bhutanese rulers on innocent citizens of Bhutan.
Have all of them become the birds of same feathers? Is it acceptable to the people who claim to be civilized, conscious and human rights defenders?
Having been favored by the silence of the world human rights watchdogs, the Bhutanese rulers shamelessly but bodily labeled the innocent evicted Bhutanese as terrorists. But a question to ponder upon lingers – were all these old and young, infants and toddlers, women and disables able to make themselves terrorists?
The Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty revised in 2007 provided the leverage to Bhutanese rulers to import and stock arms and ammunition as much as they want. Such arms are never to use against other nation but the people themselves, if they raise voice against the authoritarian policies.
As Illegal Immigrants
As noted earlier, even the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk evidently accepted the facts about immigration of Bhutias, the forefathers of Drukpas from Tibet, to this area since 650 A.D without taking legal permission from the then Indian Koch Rulers. Such immigration from Tibet took place to this area for better pasture. They also settled down in this area permanently and started ruling this area under different Lamas and Deb raja. So, are not the Bhutias (Drukpa) illegal immigrants to modern Bhutan?
In a case similar to the Bhutias from Tibet, some of the Gurkhas also migrated to Bhutan centuries later without any legal permission as such system of recording the entry of migrants was not in place in the country. But their exact time of entry was not noted in the history and that remains a legend among the descendants of Gurkhas. Further later, some Gurkhas were encouraged by the then rulers of Bhutan (through Bhutan agent in Kalimpong) to settle in Bhutan and tame the malaria infested land after finding them a sincere and hard working. Some were even issued the kasho (the royal edict) allowing settlement with authority to clear and cultivate the virgin forestland in the south. In 1877, some prominent persons like Dhanbir Budathoki and Dalchan Gurung were allowed to settle more Gorkhas in southern Bhutan. Thus the Gurkhas/Nepalese were never illegal immigrants to this area of today’s Bhutan.
Are citizens of any country who raise their voice against their ruthless ruler anti-nationals? Perhaps the Bhutanese rulers consider themselves synonymous with the nation, Bhutan. Because of their misconceptions they labeled all the Bhutanese of other communities as anti-nationals after evicting them from their motherland, Bhutan, who raised their voice against them about their discriminative, suppressive and oppressive policies. The evicted Bhutanese are never against their own nation, Bhutan. But the truth of anti-national activities of the Bhutanese rulers have been recorded in the history and observed recently. In the past, vast area of Bhutan from the left bank of river Teesta (now in India) to right bank of river Jaldhaka (now in Bhutan) along with eighteen (18) duars were handed over to British-India by the then Bhutanese rulers after signing the treaty on 11th Nov 1865 and recently handed over ten thousand square kilometer of northern Bhutan to republic of China is not true anti-national activities? Is evicting thousands of bona fide national not anti-nationals?
During his visit to Kathmandu on 16th April 2011, Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley alleged, “most of the refugees are from India”. If Prime Minister Thinley is the true follower of Buddhism, in the name of Lord Buddha, has he any answer to the Bhutanese refugees in camps, who by their documentary evidences proved Bhutanese citizens? If those people in camps are not Bhutanese, then the rulers are at liberty with impersonation of true Buddhists and telling all lies to the world. If the refugees in eastern Nepal are Indians then what bothered the shameless Bhutanese rulers to stage a drama of categorizing and verifying them on Nepalese soil? Over and above, it is an irony to see the world also supporting the immoral stand of the Bhutan Government.
Interestingly, the Prime Minister finds street dogs in Thimphu smiling. It is for sure that he failed to interpret whether those dogs were giving him mischievous smile for his evil ways of ruling Bhutan or a sarcastic grin at him for evicting innocent Bhutanese citizens and not repatriating them for a just solution.
It is hoped that the rulers of Bhutan will accept the facts and start becoming positive to repatriate all the exiled bona fide Bhutanese to their homestead, in safety and with human dignity as soon as possible.