Monday, July 22, 2024
Civics

Story Of Bhutanese Refugee In Nepal

An ongoing high-profile concern driven over a fake refugee case has sent shockwaves throughout the country. Let’s take a look at story of Bhutanese refugee in Nepal.

Exposing the levels of organized corruption in the government’s corridors of power. As the investigation progresses, it reveals a web of conspiracy, including former deputy prime ministers and home ministries. It looks like they are either fleeing from justice or desperately trying to ignore law authorities. If justice is serves, many powerful people may face the harsh reality of jail bars in the not-too-distant future.

It takes place in the early 1990s and focuses on the misery of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. The Lhotshampas, Bhutanese residents of Nepali ethnicity, are pushed from their homes in Bhutan. Due to the government’s discriminating practices. Bhutan’s “One Nation, One People” policy, which favored the dominant Drukpa ethnic group and set major citizenship criteria to maintain Bhutanese culture, threw the minority Lhotshampas into despair.

Join us as we dig into this enthralling story. We look to shed light on the story of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal by untangling the web of corruption, giving voice to their stories, and sparking a flame of hope for a brighter, more just future. Below is the timeline of incidents on how all this started:

Bhutanese refugee Devi Maya Thapa (second left) sits on a bench with her family at a refugee camp in Nepal. She is the 100,000th Bhutanese refugee to be resettled. Source: UHCR

Story In The Late 80s

  • People from modern-day southern Nepal migrated to Bhutan’s south. That began in the 1600s when people were migrating from Nepal to Bhutan.
  • Most of the migrant group speaks Nepali and follows Hinduism, but there is significant linguistic, religious, and ethnic variation within the community.
  • Members of this group, known as the Lhotsampa, were granted Bhutanese citizenship in 1958.
  • The Bhutanese government canceled Lhotsampa’s citizenship in 1985.
  • Only those individuals might keep their citizenship if they had tax receipts confirming their residency in the nation since 1958 and were included in the census.
  • Bhutan introduced the One Nation, One People policy in 1988.
  • Only the Dzongkha language and the attire and social etiquette of the Buddhist Ngalong ruling elite were permitted under the regime.
  • As a result, many Lhotsampa lost their citizenship, and the use of Nepali in schools was outlaw.
  • Some Lhotsampa lost their job or harassed in their jobs.
Overview of Bhutanese Refugee camp in Beldangi II camp. No permanent structures are allowed to be built inside the camps.Source: Bhutaneserefuee.com

Story In Early 90s

  • Protests against the “One Nation, One People” rules occur in southern Bhutan.
  • The Bhutanese government reacted by cracking down and arresting Lhotshampa activists.
  • After labeling ethnic Nepalis as “illegal aliens” under their citizenship statute, the Bhutanese government launched a campaign of forced evictions.
  • Many people flee from Bhutan and seek shelter in neighboring nations.
  • Bhutanese refugees travel to Nepal via India, settling in Jhapa and Morang. 
  • In Nepal, there are roughly 120,000 refugees.
  • When the group arrived in Nepal, it settled along the Mai River, resulting in a humanitarian tragedy.
  • Refugees had to beg in Nepali settlements and survive on cooked bad rice.
  • The prevalence of dysentery and other infections increased, increasing child mortality rates.
  • To address the problem, the Nepalese government and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) took action.
  • The nonprofit CARITAS became involved in the process.
  • The first of seven refugee camps set up in 1991.
  • Over the next fifteen years, the refugee population in Nepal maintained some stability while discussing their destiny.
Bhutanese Refugee homeless after fire started in camp. 2008 Source: NBC News

Situation Of Bhutanese Refugee After 2007

  • Nepal’s government collaborates with Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States to provide resettlement possibilities for Bhutanese refugees.
  • The resettlement program would help refugees in seven camps in Jhapa and Morang.
  • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees have been successfully relocated to third countries, with the bulk traveling to the United States.
  • As a result, the two camps are home to less than 18,000 refugees.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) announced the end of its financial and food assistance program for refugees on November 19, 2018. They note the effectiveness of the resettlement program.
  • On July 14, 2019, the government of KP Sharma Oli appointed Bal Krishna Panthi to lead a task team to explore plans to manage the remaining Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. This include in following the closure of the resettlement program in late 2016.
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Damak announced its plan to scale out activities by 2020 December 2019. This include noting the completion of most work and the fulfillment of basic necessities for remaining refugees.
  • The UNHCR transferred the remaining refugees to the Nepalese government and terminated the Damak office by the end f 2020.
Source: Collection of file photos

Beginning Of Scam Situation

  • An organized gang aims at Nepali citizens in districts such as Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Dang, Gorkha, Baglung, and others.
  • The gang offers to register them as false Bhutanese refugees and help them migrate to the United States.
  • Each victim is force to pay between Rs 1 million and Rs 5 million.
  • According to a UNHCR factsheet, 113,500 Bhutanese refugees were established in eight third countries between 2007 and 2016.
  • In March 2022, victims submitted a complaint with the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office, accusing Niraj Rai, Indrajit Rai (Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa’s security advisor), and others of a Rs 56 million fraud plan.
  • With the transfer of Home Secretary Pandey and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha’s call for a thorough examination, the investigation got speed.
  • The District Police Range launched an investigation into organized crime in May 2022.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs and Nepal Police started investigating the criminal group implicated in the scam on June 14, 2022.
  • Several arrests from March and April 2023, include gang boss Keshav Dulal, allies Sanu Bhandari and Tek Gurung, former ward chair Sagar Thulung Rai, and local Sandesh Sharma.
  • Dulal and Bhandari admit paying Indrajit Rai and Niraj Rai to fake Bhutanese refugee documents.
  • Indrajit Rai, Tek Narayan Pandey, and Sandeep Rayamajhi were on arrest on May 2, 2023.
  • Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Pratik Thapa, and Niraj Rai got arrest warrants. On May 7, 2023, a leak audio recording, accuse legislators and Nepali Congress leaders Arzu Rana Deuba and Manju Khand of accepting huge sums of money concerning the fake Bhutanese refugee crisis.
  • Both lawmakers deny the audio’s validity and have filed complaints against the online distribution outlet.

Current Situation

  • On May 9 and 10, 2023, have been arrest Govind Chaudhary, Ram Sharma KC, Bal Krishna Khand, and Narendra KC.
  • Top CPN (UML) official Bahadur Rayamajhi is on the run and has been on suspension from his role as party secretary.
  • The investigative findings reveal that at least 33 people were in the fraud.
  • According to the investigation, at least 106 persons were swindling out of Rs 275 million by fake promises of relocation to the United States as fake refugees.
  • 16 famous suspects have been on arrest, including former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and former home minister Bal Krishna Khand.
  • The remaining 17 people involved in the scheme are currently on the run.
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