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On people’s forgotten story

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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.

As Terrorists
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.

As Anti-Nationals
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?

As Indians
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.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I’m disappointed by the arguments that Bhampa Rai makes – they sound like a thoroughly disgruntled old hag prattling away incessantly without much substance.
    What makes Nagendra Singh the authority on Bhutan history?
    Those who have legitimately earned their citizenship and endured troubled times continue to live in Bhutan although unfortunately many had been swayed & forced into joining the ill-intentioned propaganda with self-interest by some.
    How do you differentiate economic migrants from expat agricultural workers who chose to stay (with or without permission)?
    Foreign diplomats are not stupid – they know the how and why but are sympathetic to the plights of those in the camps.
    Most importantly, rather than wasting energy on the impossible task of trying to discredit Bhutan and the Bhutanese (whilst also calling it your home), I suggest you propose reasonable solutions, whether they be for reconciliation, repatriation, or resettlement.

  2. Isn’t it a responsibility of government to estimate and calculate the situation and to predict the cost of the problems? Would this become a tension- if people’s voice for freedom and change have been listened?

    If Bhutanese government( i.e, Jigme Singye Wangchuck and his affiliates) weren’t responsible for the eviction of hundred thousand Bhutanese out of the country, I would stop my discussion. If not, then the government is responsible and accountable to propose reasonable solutions, why Dr. Rai should?

    In-fact, to make you clear, Dr. Rai and many of our educated senior Bhutanese have had proposed for repatriation, where they ever listened?

    Next, as a ordinary citizen, he is expressing and introducing his understanding and thoughts, what is wrong with this?

    Last but not least, I do consider Bhutan as my home, and as a truthful citizen of a nation I should be given a space to discredit a my government if I believe their move and acts were unjust and irresponsible.

    FYI- Foreign diplomats are not stupid because they are directed to different chapter of a story; Inaddition, history of our country is written by a generational power(The Wangchucks) not the people.

    Regards!
    Manish

  3. The arguments that narrated by Bhampa Rai seems nonsense because it doesn’t makes any sense,

    dear manish….wangchuk is not people??? they are our forefather who had safeguarded our country and provided peace and secularism to the nationhood… non of our great,great parents had gone this…. if u think so…..
    than name one of your parent who had marked in history of Bhutan???? and its achievements…. never try to express your ill-stupid thoughts…..

    raju rai

  4. Dear Raju,

    It sounds like you have little understanding about the history of my country. Major struggle to establish this nation was gone by Zhabdrung, and if you believed that he should be honored why in earth his incarnations were totally discredited and eliminated from the root by Wangchuck dynasty?

    I don’t know how matured you are on real history of Bhutan, but for sure, I know you need to explore the real history of our nation, not the fake one designed by our Wangchucks.

    Do you know Harilal Gandhi, Devdas Gandhi are sons of Mahatma Gandhi, with you understanding, does India need to invest billions for Gandhi’s generation. Your argument is very weak.

    As always I respect Ugyen Wangchuck for his contribution, but why the hell I need to keep on bowing down for his generation, why are we still investing millions for his generation? The way you credited Wangchucks for the Bhutan today doesn’t make any sense. We should first give that credit to our fellow Bhutanese who build roads, Monasteries, Schools, and offices.

    As well, we need to honor and remember every single Bhutanese who give their life to bring Bhutan in this stage.But still bowing down and investing a huge resources our nation to Wangchucks is completely nonsense.

    My question- How the person (4th Monarch- Jigme Singye Wangchuck) who made 1/6th population of our nation refugee credible to he honored. In fact, he dilute and pollute the real spirit of our nation. In addition, Jigme Singye Wangchuck had ruin the value and meaning of Buddhism.

    Once again, I respect Ugyen Wangchuck for his contribution, but I always hate and disrespect Jigme Singye Wangchuck(4th Monarch). He is not the king of people, but a king of power.

    Tashi delek!
    Tshering