The stereotype of illegal immigration


Damcho Dorji, one time a para-legal, member of opposition party in DPT government, and now the home minister of Bhutan is harping an old rhetoric: illegal immigration continuing to threat the sovereignty of Bhutan. In an interview published in kuensel of September 9, the home minister has not cared to show his sincerity of evidenced based answer to the question of ‘how many have not got the citizenship card’. He seems to have despised the objectivity of the question meant to get an official figure of the pending citizenship cases.

Illegal immigration is talk of the show for Bhutanese cabinet officials and some constitutional post holders in judiciary. And, it comes always with a tag: sovereignty of Bhutan. The response of the home minister is distracting one from the real pending cases of the citizenship cards of the people in south to a more utopian and idealistic hypothesis of fear of small nations being overwhelmed by immigration. In the case of Bhutan, sovereignty is already at stake in the northern and western border with China claiming parts of Bhutan. This has nothing to do with the immigration whether legal or illegal, since the border mismatch with China has arisen out of official myopia in adopting foreign policy. Contrarily, going by Lyonpo Om Pradhan’s book, Bhutan’s sovereignty was protected by the immigration and settlement of Nepali-speaking people in the south undertaken by late J B Pradhan. 

The home minister of democratic government of Bhutan is treading upon the foot steps of erstwhile home minister, Dago Tshering, who branded all people in the south as ngolops, terrorists and ostracized them to be illegal immigrants who came to Bhutan for all the welfare provided. He is indicating that illegal immigration is continuing even after the mass exodus but does not provide the basis of his assumption. So it is a cycle of official rhetoric that government officials are deliberately throwing out to create fear in the people whose citizenship cases are under scrutiny. With this statement, the air is thickened with suspicion, attitude in the home ministry ripening to malignant rather than benign, fear and frustration instilled and waves of whispers set in motion again.

Citizenship issues can be resolved only if we find a lasting solution to the problem of continuing illegal immigration in to our country” is definitely the other way of saying “ we cannot issue citizenship unless we are completely convinced that (they) are not illegal immigrants”.  What people in Samtse have shown their concern with Tshering Tobgay in the election campaign is all gone sublime.

The home minister should not have turned away from the very fundamental and genuine concern of the question to his philosophical and assumed parlance which simply blames the country’s policy and weakness of hiring non-Bhutanese workers throughout the history of Bhutan’s development.