Bhutan refugees from Nepal seek India's help
New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Representatives of Bhutanese refugees from Nepal and human rights group Human Rights Defence International (HRDI) Saturday urged India to help 1.3 lakh people allegedly forced to leave Bhutan.
Speaking at a symposium organised by the HRDI at Indian Law Institute here, Bhutanese Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee chairman Bhampa Rai said that India has a moral responsibility to help secure justice for the refugees who were forced to shift to Nepal from Bhutan in the 1990s.
According to Rai, the refugees, mostly ethnic Hindus called Lhotshampa in Bhutan, originally came from Nepal and settled in the southern parts of Bhutan in the early 20th century but the government termed the Lhotshampa as illegal immigrants and anti-nationals.
"The inhabitants of eastern Bhutan, the followers of Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, have also been suppressed and deprived of their social, economic, cultural and traditional rights," he said.
Indian parliamentarian Tarun Vijay of the Bharatiya Janata Party said that issues related to Bhutan refugees reflected a humanitarian crisis.
He said the refugees were "facing silent terrorism at the hands of the monarchy through oppressive laws and systematic discrimination".
Fellow speaker S.B. Gurung, himself a resident of one of the Bhutan refugee camps in Nepal, portrayed the grim picture of life in such settlements.
"We are almost 15,000 people in just 540 bamboo huts. There is no security or medical facility in the camp. And with the repatriation efforts failing to deliver, there is a sense of utter hopelessness among the refugees," he said.
Gurung is a member of the central committee of People's Forum For Human Rights, a refugees' organisation.
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