Bhutanese refugees groups for the last 3 years have been claiming
that the Royal Government Of Bhutan (RGOB) has been resettling
people from northern Bhutan on the lands of the refugees presently
in camps in Nepal. The refugee groups felt this had serious
implications on their return to the lands they had been forcibly
evicted from or had to flee from in the early 1990s. They
wanted an independent international Organisation to look in
to these claims and requested Habitat international Coalition
to conduct a fact- finding mission for this purpose.
international Coalition undertook a fact-finding mission from
23rd September to 1st October 2001 to verify the claims of
the Bhutanese refugees that the RGOB is resettling poeple
from northern Bhutan on the lands they have been evicted from
in southern Bhutan. The two- member mission consisted of Me.
Minar Pimple, social scientist and housing rights expert,
and Ms. Seema misra, who has extensive experience with civil
society work on human rights in South Asia.
fact-finding mission interviewed 17 refugee families from
the camps in Nepal. The refugees were asked to give detailed
information on their reasons for leaving Bhutan, how much
land and housing property they had, and to provide any original
documentary evidence of their citizenship such as citizenship
cards, land tax receipts, house tax receipts. land documents,
employment , etc. The refugees were asked if they knew what
had happened to their property in Bhutan and how they obtained
addition to marking a general review (according to information
provided by the refugees ) of the state of resettlement of
people from northern Bhutan on the lands belonging to Bhutanese
refugees. the fact-finding team (FFT) selected 7 refugee families
(from those i9nterviewed) and sought to verity their claims
by visiting their villages in Bhutan. Families from 2 districts
of Bhutan- Samchi and sarbhang bordering India- were chosen
for relative security and access. Pinjuli and chengamari villages
in Samchi district and Gaylegpghug town and lodarai and lalai
villages in Sarbhang were visited. All these villages were
entered from the bordering indian villages. THe land of the
refugees was identified either by the lhotsampa villagers
who still lived there (in Bhutan) or by their friends or relatives
from the villages on the indian side. These people were also
interviewed to get the latest information on the situation
in southern Bhutan. The refugees were concerned about their
being able to return, if northern Bhutanese have been resettled
on their lands. The fact- Finding report documents in details
these interviews with the refugees and physical verification
of their claims.
report also documents the discussions held with refugees on
the joint verification being carried out by the RGOB and the
His Majesty's Government of Nepal (HMG Nepal)
the khudunabari camp. As of now only the Khudunabari camp
has gone through the verification process. The verification
was begun in March 2001 and the last few families and individuals
of Khudunabari were interviewed on 13th December 2001. The
report documents the discussion held with members of the nepalese
civil society who have been working on or supporting the Bhutanese
refugee issue. Members of the refugee political Parties and
human rights groups were also consulted and their viewpoint
on the resettlement and repatriation issue has been included
in the report. The FFT met with the officials of the UNHCR,
the Foreign Secretary of Nepal, the Counsellor and press Secretary
of the Embassy of Bhutan and the Ministry of External Affairs
FFT report finally analyes the information gathered during
the fact finding to see how far the current Situation on the
ground is in compliance with the international human rights
obligations of Bhutan. The report also looks at secondary
evidence such as the proceedings in Bhutan's National ASsembly
debates to establish the extent of resettlement on the refugee
and findings of the fact - finding
The RGOB has been resettling northern Bhutanese in the lands
of the southern Bhutanese refugees as physically observed
in some cases.
Not all the northern Bhutanese settled in the southern districts
are landless, as the RG OB has claimed. Land has been given
to army and police officers or their relatives, especially
land close to roads or with the larger houses.
All the refugees interviewed want to go back to the lands
they were evicted from, for regaining their land and housing
The refugees from Khudunabari camp are unhappy with the joint
verification process that is under way as they do not see
any links between this verification process and final repatriation.
The refugees would like their representatives, the office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights (UNHCHR) to be included as parties in all negotiations
and in particular the joint verification process.
The fact- finding team met people at various levels who indicated
the urgent need for the Government of india to play an active
role in resolving the Bhutanese refugee crisis.
In the interest of just and durable repatriation of Bhutanese
refugees, in full consonance with international human rights
and humanitarian law, it is imperative that RGOB stop resettling
northern Bhutanese on refugee lands under its obligations
as State of Origin.
The RG OB should provide complete data and information on
the resettlement it has done so far in lands and houses previously
belonging to the refugees.
The RGOB should invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur
on adequate housing to examine the country's preparedness
to repartriate the refugees in accordance with international
human rights standards.
The verification process and the other stages leading to repat5riation
should include representatives of the Bhutanese refugee community
and the UNHCR.
To show good faith, th RGOB should speed up the verification
process and plan for repatriation in the near future, starting
with those verified as Bhutanese citizens in the Khudunabari
camp, ande then as vertification of each camp population is
To show good faith, the RGOB should take steps to remove the
resettlers from refugee lands. The international community
including relevant United Nations agencies and deonor governments
should assist the RG OB in this effort.
THe UNHCR needs to take a further proactive role in fulfilling
its mandate to work for a durable solution, particularly through
repatriation in conditions of security and dignity, and to
reduce the risk of statelessness.
8. The UNHCGHR needs to take a further proactive role in fulfilling
its mandate to work for the protection and promotion of the
human rights of the refugees in the context of the cverification
and repatriation processes.
The repatriation talks must give due emphasis to the process
t5hat will be neceswary ( including land claims, Provision
of civic Services and so forth) in restoring the land and
housing rights of the refugees upon their return to Bhutan.
when repatriation begins. Bhutan should give access to both
UNHCGHR and UNHCR to ensure that the economic, social and
cultural rights of the refugees on return are proteched.
In addition to the inherent role to be played by the governments
of Bhuta and Nepal, the Government of India must also play
an active role to facilitate the speedy return of the refugees
Aprotection officer should be appointed by the UNHCR to oversee
the repatriation process and the rehabilitation phase for
this vulnerable group, within the human rights framework.
The United Nations treaty bodies should continue to monitor
and follow up on the situation of the Bhutanese refugees.
CHAPTER - 1
Bhutanese Refugee Crisis
are a little more than 100,000 Bhutanese of Nepali ethnicity
living in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) monitored refugee camps in Japan, Nepal, and an estimated
20,000 living elsewhere in Nepal and india. Between late 1990
and 1992 they were forcibly evicted or had fled from their
homes in the southern districts of Bhutan, namely, Samchi,
Chhuka, DAgana, Chirang, Sarbhang and Samdrup Jongkhar, due
to the discriminatory policies of the Royal Government of
Bhutan ( RG OB) and became refugees. An acceptable soulution
to this problem is yet to be arrived at and as years pass
the problem is becoming more complex on various fronts.
international Coalition (HIC), along with other human rights
organisations and agencies like amnesty international and
lutheran World Federation, has supported and advocated for
the rights of the Bhutanese refugees in the United Nagtions
(UN) Human rights system . The UN sub Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Humann Rights at its 50th session on August
19th 1998 called for "negotiation in good faith"
and the UN Committe on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
in its concluding observations on Nepal's Periodic report
on 20th Agugst 1998 called "Upen the state party to fully
observe the human rights of refugees and displaced persons
of Bhutan and to negotiate with the Government of Bhutan towards
a peaceful solution of this important issue. " Most recently
in june 2001, the UN commitee on the Rights of the Child in
its concluding observations on Bhutan's initial report asked
for "greater efforts to expendite the verifica5tion process
and condider the possibility of repatriating individuals within
a reasonable time following individual verification. "
a series of intermittent ministerial-level negotiations betwen
the government of Bhutan and Nepal, beginning in 1993, a Joint
Verification TEam (Consisting of 5 representatives from each
government) began veritication work in one of refugee camps-
- in March 2001. The joint verification team (JVT) constituted
to verify the citizenship claims of the refugees began by
interviewing 1 1 families per day and from September onwards
they were interviewing 15 families per day. By mid-December
all the families of Khudunabari had been interviewed by the
JVT The verification process is slow and neither government
has given any information as to what will be the next step.
There is no information when the outcome of the verification
will be announced; which camp will be verified next; will
camp by camp verification continue or will verification of
all the camps take place simultaneously and when will repatriation
take place. The process of verification is seen by both governments
as bilateral so it does not include representatives of refugee
community or the UNHCR. The UNHCR is willing to facilitate
the process but the two governments have not formally invited
international NGOs have collaborated with the UNHCR for providing
basic services to the refugee community. They too are eager
that the verification provides the opportunity to the Bhutanese
refugees to return to Bhutan. The international community
has responded to the immediate humanitarian needs and basic
rights of the refugees in the areas of food, housing, sanitation,
drinking water, health and education. But financial support
from the donor community is now waning after over 1 0 years,
resulting in the reduction of services available to the refugees
(especially education) and even of their food rations. In
any event, the full rights of the refugees can only be secured
with the establishment of a durable solution for all the refugees,
preferably through repatriation to their homes, in conditions
of security and dignity.
of citizenship laws in creating Bhutanese refugees'
In 1985, Bhutan amended its citizenship laws to arbitrarily
revoke the citizenship of the Southem Bhutanese who form 25
per cent of its population. The provisions of the Bhutan Citizenship
Act, 1985, required both parents to be citizens for a person
to be a citizen by birth. To get citizenship by registration
required a person to be permanently domiciled in Bhutan on
or before 31s' December, 1958. This provision was used with
retrospective effect. A census carried out in the southern
districts of Bhutan in 1988 declared all those who could not
produce land tax receipts of 1958 as non-nationals, even if
they were citizens under the earlier citizenship law. If they
had land tax receipts of earlier or later years they were
regarded as non-nationals. This was despite the fact under
Bhutanese law nonnationals are not permitted to own land in
Bhutan. The census categorised the Southem Bhutanese into
seven types . Those who were not "Genuine Bhutanese"
were regarded as illegal immigrants and forced to leave the
to fact-finding mission
The Bhutanese refugees groups for the last 3 years have been
claiming that RGOB has been resettling people from northern
Bhutan on the lands of the refugees presently in camps in
Nepal. The refugee groups felt this had serious implcations
on their right to return to the lands they had been evicted
from in the early 1990s. They wanted an independent international
organisation to look into these claims ande requested habitat
international coalition to cinduct a fact-finding mission
for this purpose.
fact- finding mission
Habitat international Coalition undertook a fact-finding mission
from 23rd September to 1st October, 2001, to verify the claims
of the Bhutanese refugees that the RGOB is resettling people
from northern Bhutan on the lands they have been eviced from
in southern Bhutan. The two-member mission consisted of Me.
Minar pimple, Social Scientist and housing rights expert,
and Ms. Seema Misra, who has extensive experience with civil
society work on human tights in south Asia.
fact - finding team undertook following tasks:
1. Checking the claims of the refugees in 5relation to land
and housing property in southern Bhutan based on records that
2. Ascertaining the cureent situation regarding the properties
of the refugees by gathering information from sources other
than the refugees and by verigying this through a field visit
to two districts in southern Bhutan.
3. Documenting information on the housing and land rights
of the refugee community and determining compliance with international
human rights standards.
fulfilment of these tasks sthe fact- finding mission interviewed
17 refugee families from the camps in Nepal. The fact - finding
team selected 7 refugee families (from those interviewed)
to verity claims of resettlement of north Bhutanese on their
land by visiting their villages in Bhutan.
fact-finding mission interviewed 17 refugee families from
the camps in Nepal. The refugees were asked to give detailed
information on when they had left Bhutan, reasons for leaving,
how much land and housing property they owned, if they knew
what had happened to their property in Bhutan and how they
got this information, etc. Documents to ascertain their citizenship
such as citizenship cards and land ownership documents including
land tax receipts, house tax receipts. employment documents
and other documents from the RGOB were checked in original
and photocopies were obtained for the record.
addition to making a general review of the state of resettlement,
7 refugee families from among those interviewed were selected,
so that the FFT could visit their villages in Bhutan to verity
their claims. Families belonging to 2 districts of Bhutan-
Samchi (Samtse) and Sarbhang (Sarpang)- bordering India were
chosen for relative security and access. Pinjuli and Chengamari
villages in Samchi district and Gaylegphung (Gelephu) town
and Lodarai and Lalai villages in Sarbhang district were visited.
All these villages were entered from the bordering Indian
villages. The land of the refugees was identified either by
the Lhotsampa villagers who still lived there (inBhutan) or
by theirfriends or relatives in the villages on the Indian
side. These people were also interviewed to get the latest
information on the situation in southern Bhutan.
was not possible to speak to the northern Bhutanese settlers
for security reasons and dut to the language barrier . For
security reasons also it was not possible to speak with the
Bhutanese officials within the country.
addition to checking the claims of the refugees, the fact-finding
mission also tried to get the information on the latest situation
regarding the verification process going on in one of the
refugee camps and the long-term plans and commitments if any
of both the HMG, Nepal (where the refugees are presently situated),
and the RGOB regarding repatriation of the refugees. For this
purpose, the FFT met a wide range of people. These included
officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal; members
of civil society in Nepal who have been involved with the
Bhutanese refugee issues and leaders of the Southern Bhutanese
the visit to Bhutan and Nepal the FFT met the Counsellor and
Press Secretary of the Embassy of Bhutan in New Delhi to get
their response to the perliminary findings. FFT also met the
Deputy Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Government
of India, in New Delhi to share the preliminary findings and
to to understand India's stand on the Bhutanese refugees.
FFT findings are not based on survey conducted through random
sampling method but is done by using case study method though
selection of sites for physical verification was done randoml
by the team. To this extent, findings are indicative of the
process under way.
The FFT met 17 Southem Bhutanese refugee families at Damak
in eastern Nepal. As outlined earlier, the data given below
was collected through the process of interviews, verification
of documents and then cross-checked with other sources. Field
visits were made to villages of 7 families in Bhutan to physically
verify the information and claims made by the refugees. Where
possible, sources of information are indicated. In some cases,
especially those living inside Bhutan, names have not been
mentioned for security reasons. These are available with Habitat
section has been divided into several parts, the first part
contains personal information given by each family and information
gathered in the villages visited. The other parts contain
general information collected through the interviews with
refugees and others, on the land survey system; the resettlement
process; the expropriation of property of political dissents;
problems of schooling; and the verification process taking
place in one of the refugee camps.
Interviews with head of the refugee families and verification
1) Hari Prasad Adhikari
Village: Satikharay; Block: Gaylegphug; District: Sarbhang;
No: 350; 460; 515
Camp: Khudunabari B3/84
of original documents submitted
Land and housing: citizenship card, land tax receipts, certificate
of valuation of a building, photographs of his house, letters
of Dzongdah (district officer) regarding requisition of timber.
documents: motor vehicle trade license; photograph of truck
that was seized, letter from Gaylegphug Dzongdah referring
his status as a National Assembly member and telephone receipt.
Land and housing information
He had a house in Gaylegphug, which is 3 km from the Indian
border. He had sold one half of the house to D.B. Subedi who
was also a member of the National Assembly. He owns a hotel
in Gaylegphug town called Ashoka Hotel, which he bought by
taking a loan. He also has lands in Suray, which were farmed
by hired help.
his property was seized on 4 th or 5 th April 1991 and shortly
afterwards on glh April his family was thrown out of the country.
He said that now a person by the name of Dilliram Neopane
lives in the portion of the house that he sold to D. B. Subedi.
The government has taken over the other half of the house.
After he was forced out of Bhutan, a tenant of his ran Ashoka
Hotel for 2 years. Hari prasad Adhikari has heard that his
hotel has now been auctioned and someone else is running it
and he is not sure if it has the same name.
to him, the northern Bhutanese resettlers are getting a lot
of incentives from the government. The RGOB is paying for
everything and providing a lot of facilities. There are about
200 house of resettlers in Lalai block.
Hari prasad Adhikari was a member of the National Assembly
and a close associate of Tek Nath Rozal, the most prominent
Bhutanese dissident leader. He (Me. Adhikari) represented
the Gaylegphug sub-division in SArbhang district. He has a
letter stating that he is a National Assembly member and is
therefore exempted from compulsory labour. After being under
constant surveillance and for all practical purposes under
house arrest for 10 months. he escapef on 24th August 1990.
His family left later and were not allowed to bring anything.
THey left Only with the clothes they were wearing and the
principal of Shyam Nursery School in Daantgari(Hatisar), Assam,
India gave them shelter, Along with his house, his bank accounts,
truck and rice mill were seized . His trick and rice mill
have been auctioned. He showed photographs of his trick and
house in Gaylegphug. He says that the RGOB thought him to
be politically active in India and was therefore harsh with
stressed that the findings of the FFT should be publicized
in the media to pressurise the Indian policy makers to take
a stand on the Bhutanese refugee issue. He said that the RGOB
is playing the racial card. The Nepali speaking Population
of Bhutan want their rights and properties as citizens. He
said that the Lhotsampas have been living in southern Bhutan
for more than a century. Thery were brought in large numbers
to Bhutan from 1890 onwards to fight in the army against the
British and were also the highest revfenupayers.
asked if he wanted to go back, he said yes and said that the
government should remove the resettlers from the land of the
southern Bhutanese by giving them compensation.
On 25th September, the FFT crossed over to Gaylegphug town
in Bhutan from Hatisar village in Kokrajhar district of assam.
A gate erected by the Bhutanese to mark the border separates
Hatisar and Gaylegphug. THere are people constantly going
back and forth between Gaylegphug and Hatisar by foot and
other vehicles either for work, to the market or even for
basic necessities such as water, schooling, etc. The FFT walked
across the border and then from the Gaylegphug marketplace
trvelled in a car accompanied by a resident of the town named
A . The FFT saw Hari Prasad Adhikari's house, which is as
he had mentioned about 3 km from the Bhutan-India border.
It was easy to identify as Hari
had shown a photograph of his house in Gaylegphug. THe house
was also pointed by A who had accompanied the team. THe house
is on the right side of the road While entering Gaylegphug
market which has now been renamed Druk Hotel. The FFT also
saw Shyam Nursery School at Hatisar where Adhikari's Family
had taken shelter following their eviction from their home
a private dispensary in Hatisar in India the FFT met two other
residents of Gaylegphug, B&C who verified the information
given by Hari prasad Adhikari about his departure from Bhutan
and the current status of his properties. THery confirmed
that the sub Divisional Officer has taken half of Adhikari's
house and that his hotel has been renamed.
Dilli Ram Bhatarai, son of padam Lal Bhatarai
Village: Lodrai; Block: Gaylegphug; District: Sarbhang; Tham
No : 137, House No LR-83 Camp : Goldhap, Sector D1/51
Copies of orginal documents Submitted
Land and housing : 1958 land tax receipt, char kila18 land
record of 1970 ; citizenship card of 1985 of self and wife;
photograph of the house' land tax receipt of 1961, '65&
Other documents : receipt of fine for not wearing national
and housing information
He has 8.50 acres of land in the village, out of which 2 acres
was wetland and the rest dr y land. He had a two-storied and
mud house with tile roofing . In 1991, he was forced to sign
the Voluntary Migration Form (VMF) and was given 34,000/-
Nu20 as compensation by the government for 8 acres of land
and leve Bhutan. He and his wife had F1 citizenship 21 that
is genuine Bhutanese, till 1985.
year ago (in 2000) a man 22 had come to visit him in the camp
from his former village and told him that a former Dungpa
(Sub-Divisional Officer ) Oko Tshering from Chirang district
has occupied his land. His house in the village has been demolished.
According to Dilli Ram Bhandari now only half of the original
Southern Bhutanese villagers remain, the rest have been forced
to sign the VMF and leave Bhutan.
His Father and grandfather were born in Bhutan and his father
is 60 years old now. His family came to the camp in Nepal
in ASugust 1992, after being beaten and tortured and forced
to sign the VMF. He used to work for the municipal corporation.
His two brothers are still in Bhutan but not in the village.
He said that the government had beaten people till they accepted
responsibility for a crime whether they had committed it or
not and he himself was also beaten.
wants to go back to his village if there will be justice ("Nyaya
hone se jane ka man kar raha hai") He said that he was
a farmer and that was the only thing he knew. On being asked
how wil he go to his land as others were occupying it, he
replied if the government has settled people on our lands
then it is the government's responsibility to remove them.
He said that the Bhutanese government should be fair and impartial
and not take sides in settling the refugee issue.
On 25th September the FFT visited Gaylegphug to vertify teh
houses of people living in Gaylegphug and Lodrai. Dili Ram
Bhattarai's house was seen on the same day as hari prasad
Adhikari's As mentioned above the FFT drove to Gaylegphug
town in a taxi accompanied by A. Lodarai village is on the
main road about 5 minutes beyond the Gaylegphug municipality.
local resident of GAylegphug A pointed out Bhattarai's broken
house with a newly built house next to it. Bhattarai's house
is on the left hand side of the road just beyond adhikari's
house, which is on the right side of the road when driving
up from the border gate. Both these houses were along the
main road and can be seen from the car. It was not possible
to get off and talk to people because even in a span of 10
minutes about 5-6 government vehicles drove past. In southern
Bhutan houses in the village are not together, but each family
builds their house on their fields. THis also made it difficult
to tald to people in the villages as the houses were spread
who spoke with the FFT in Hatisar confirmed that Bhattarai's
house had been occupied by a former Dungpa (Sub Divisional
Kul Bahadur Karki brother of Chandra Karki
Village : Lodarai, Block: Gaylegphug; District: Sarbhang.
Tham No. 104 camp Goldhap Sector C4/78
of original documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1964 ; citizenship
card, royalty tax receipt of 1988; land deed or tham.
and housing information
The land record is in his brother Chandra Karki's name. He
has 3.85 acres of wet land; 6.60 acres of dry land and 10
decimal house plot. A total of 10.81 acres. He showed the
land record of 1975.
Dungpa of Gaylegphug has been givin their land and has made
it a storehouse for cement poles. He got information from
someone who goes back and forth between the village and the
camps23 . The village had about 300 Lhotsampa households out
of which 200 households became refugees. Only 100 households
are remaining in the village. He says that the roadside land
has been taken by "big people". On the other land
the trees have become big and one cannot even tell that people
lived there once.
Kul Bahadur's Family came to nepal in 1992. He was in Jail
between 6/8//91 to 26/12/94 for being an anti-national. This
has been written on his citizenship card. He was active in
the 1990 demonstrations24. His brother Chandra Karki was also
declared an anti-national for taking part in a rally and imprisoned.
His citizenship card too has anti-national written on it.
being asked what will he do now that the Dungpa was living
in his house in Bhutan, he said that he would file a court
case against the Dungpa. He felt it was the government's responsibility
to send the resetled people back. He was very clear about
wanting to go back to his village. "We have nothing in
the camps". He also said "that we want our rights
we want our human rights".
On 25th September the FFT went to GAylegphug town and lodarai
village. THe local resident of Gaylegphug A who accompanied
the FFT identified Karki's house at the same time as he did
Adhikari's in GAylegphug town and Bhattarai's in Lodrai. Chandra
Karki's House is on the same side of the road as Bhattarai's
and when going up the road from the border gate it comes after
confirmed that Chandra Karki's land has been taken over by
the Dungpa. The land has been transferred in the Dungpa's
wife's name. They have leased part of the land to a hydel
Project office for 10,000/- Nu. The office has been storing
pipes and cement poles, etc.
Rabi lal Timishina
Village : Lalai, Block : Lalar; Distict : Sarbhang; Tham No
: 111 ; House No : 56 . camp : Goldhap; Sector B2 / 8
of orginal document submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1973; house insurance
receipt 1990; land sale tax receipt of 1984; rural tax receip
and housing information
His family had 7 acres of land. The army burnt his parents
house down in 1990 and they left Bhutan immediately afterwards.
His family had taken part in a rally so the army beat them
up and burn their house. He was working in Thimpu at that
time as an electrician in a hospital. He rebuilt his house
and lived there for one and a half years. THe army told him
that all his family members were anti- national so he should
also leave Bhutan. Moreover he would not be safe in Bhutan.
His citizenship card was confiscated and he has no land records,
except land tax receipt of 1973. He said that in 1988 he was
in F1 category, that means a "genuine Bhutanese "
and in 1991 he was put into category F5 . This made him "a
non- national man married to Bhutanese woman " on the
pretext that all his family was in India. He Left Bhutan and
came to Nepal in 1992 .
He has been told that resettlers form the north have occupied
his land and house. His father's and his houtse have been
divided into 5 sections and north Bhutanese families are staying
and farming there. The resettlers have been farming there
since 1997 . He said that his village is on tha india-Bhutan
border and across tha border is sthe indian village of Baghmara
in Aaaam. THaw villagers from Baghamra come to the camp and
give information about what has happened to their lands and
houses. He has not been back himself , as he does not have
the money to do so .
He is in the refugee camp with his parents, wife and brother.
According to him there are about 500 Southern Bhutanese families
from Lalai block in the 6 refugees camps in Nepal.
wants to go back to Bhutan as soon as possible , he wants
to get his won land back as it was very fertile. "it
is my birth place we want to go back to the same place".
On 26th September 2001, the FFT visited the village of Baghmara
in india and lalai in Bhutan. They have a common border and
are separated by a amall stream that can be easily jumped
across. The FFT walked a distance of 5-6 kms from Hatisar
to Baghmara crossing about 4 rivers including the river taklai.
The FFT was accompanied by Chandra Karki a Bhutasnese refugee
from Lodrai village, near Gaylegphug, Bhutan, now living in
Goldhap camp, and Bhakta Gimerey, another South Bhutanese
refugee from Taklai, a block adjacent to Lalai Block of Sarbhang
district and now living in Belangdi II camp.
is a large village consisting of about 1100 households. There
are about 200 Nepali families in the village and the remaining
families are Bodo or Assamese. In Baghmara we met with E and
F, both of Nepali origin and living in Baghmara. E gave general
information about the eviction of the Lhotsampas from southern
Bhutan and about the resettlement. F is a landless labouter
and a cousin of one of sthe Bhutanese refugees interfiewed.
He had asked Bhakta Gimerey to meet F in Baghmara. F goes
to look for work almost everyday to Lalai. Of late the Bhutanese
authorities are not allowing indians to work there.
F took the FFT to Lalai to See the resettlement on Rabi Lal
Timishina's house and lands. Almost as soon as the border
stream was crossed F pointed to a large empty pice of land
and said that this used to be the market place and where the
rice mill stood. After moving right and walking uphill for
10-15 minutes from the border, F pointed out RAbi Lal Timishina
and his father's land. Paddy was being grown in the fields
and the northern Bhutanese had occupied three house-one on
Rabi Lal Timishina's father's land and two on his own land.
All the houses had Buddhist Prayer flags in front of them.
All the houses were close to each other. In the first house
that F said was Rabi Lal's house, very small betel nut plants
could be seen. Sccording to F, Rabi lal and his father's house
have been partitioned and now 7 north Bhutanese families are
staying there. Out of which the FFT saw three.
The FFT Saw a northern Bhutanese woman farming and an old
man walking. Northern Bhutanese are easy to distinguish by
their clothes as they wear the Gho and Kira, Their traditional
dress. F also confirmed that Rabi Lal Timishna's father had
to leave suddenly Cattle, Utensils, etc. On the way back from
Baghmara at around 1 p.m. just after cressing the Taklai river
the FFT saw one old northern Bhutanese couple from Danabari.
They had come down to the forest on the indian side to graxe
their cattle. THe woman was wearing the kira, the northern
Bhutanese traditional dress, and they did not speak any nepali
also informed the FFT that after the 1990 agitation all the
houses in Lalai were destroyed and now whatever houses one
can see are of resettlers. Even the 2-3% Lhotshampas houses
remaining in the village are those that have been rebuilt.
In 1990 the villagers ran away to Gaylegphug and other places
but came back later to rebuild their houses.
northern Bhutanese couple who the fact-finding team met on
the way back form Baghmara to Hatisar. They have been resettled
in Danabari village in Sarbhang district. They had come down
to the Indian side to graze their cattle.
5) Ganga Ram Bhandari, age: about 70-75 years old
Village: Lalai; Block : Lalai; District : SArbhang ; Tharm
No.60, House No : LL-47 camp : Beldangi LL, Sector A3/97
of Original documents submitted
Land and housing : citizenship card of himself and tow wives
of 1985; annual census form. Other documents: a petition to
the Indian and Bhutanese government with a list of things
left behind in the village lalai and a letter with reasons
for leaving Bhutan.
and housing information
Has about 19 acres of land. Which is divided into two, 12
acres are below near the house and 6-7 acres above the village
with betel nu, coconut and lemon trees. He had a three storied
house. He ran a gracery shop from home. On 4th November 1990,
he left his house and ran away from Bhutan. The army had cordoned
his house saying that he had dangerous terrorist weapons-
"aatank ka maal hai". He escaped through the fields
to the border where two bullets were fired at him. THe army
guarded his house for 7 days thinking he may come back. Then
his house was burnt down. SEven houses were burnt at same
time and this included rabiLal Timshina's house too. He knew
the names of the other five people whose house had been burnt
down around the same time.
says Only a few Lhotsampas remain in the village-maybe one
or two. He said that the villagers from the neighbouring Indian
village of Baghmara have told him that a number of northern
Bhutanese are living in the village. Earlier when the Lhotsampas
lived in Lalai no northern Bhutanese lived in the village.
An Indian businessman from Baghmara visits the camp occasionally
and told him that an army camp has been built on his land.
Ganga Ram Bhandari said that he was attacked because he took
part in the demonstration on 21st September 1990 . He had
to leave everything behind in hid village in Bhutan such as
cattle; 200 man.25 of grains; utensils; gold and silver. He
has sent a written petition to the RGOB and Indian government.
He lives in the camp with his 2 wives and a grand daughter.
He wants to go back but wonders how he will go back as sthe
northerners are occupying his land and property.
As mentioned above the FFT walked Hatisar to the Baghmara
the Indian village that borders the vilage of Lalai in sarbhang
district of Bhutan. Most of the information about living in
the indian village of Baghmara.
and chandra Karki, a Southern Bhatanese refugee accompanied
the FFT to lalai and F pointed out Ganga Ram Bhandari's land
on which his house stood. It was unoccupied and lying vacant
with grass and shrubs growing. F also pointed out that army
camp up on the mountain and said that it was built on Bhandarui's
land where he grew fruit trees. THe army barracks is one of
sthe first things that can be seen in Lalai village while
walking from hatisar. There was a disagreement about on wghose
land the army camp had been built. According to E it has been
built on Krishna Dangal's land.
Kashi Nath Gimiray
Village : Beteni; Block Suray; District Sarbhang. Tharm No:
234, House No 56. camp: Goldhap; Sector C4/28
of original documents submitted
Land and housing : citizenship card of wife ; 2 photographs
of the house; land and house tax receipt of 1939 ; land tax
receipt of 1959; char kila document of 1960; Rural tax receipt
and housing information
Has 4 acres of land and 4 acres of orange and cardamom orchardss
and 2 houses in the village. His house had electricity. In
June 1991 he was forced to sign the VMF and given 32, 000/-
Nu (He was asked to sign the VMF because his two sons were
arrested by the government for being anti-nationals and terrorists.
His other two sons had fled Bhutan. SThe RGOB declared his
son a terrorist and asked him (Kashi Nath Gimiray ) to leave.
has been told that a monastery has occupied one of his houses
and that a north Bhutanese family lives in the other house.
He has not gone back to his village since leaving Bhutan.
But one of his sons lives in the same village but not on their
land and he gave him this information. The son's family lives
in the refugee camps. He said that out of 300 households in
suray block about 240 are in the camps and about 70 north
Bhutanese families have been resettled in the village.
wants to go back to his own land that has been in his family
for 4 generations. He wants to die on his own lasnd he said,
"We have to go back to Bhutan as our land is there. THe
government should remove the resettlers".
Devi Charan Chhetri
Village: Gairigaon; Block: Leopani ; District Sarbhang. Tharm
No 19; House No: GG - 19
Camp : Goldhap , Sector A1 - 82
and housing information
He has 14.70 acres of land and 8 acres of orange and cardamom
orchards in the village. He also has a two storied stone and
mud house with asbbestos and G1 sheet roof. He took the cattle
to graze in India from 1982-83. The govern ment raised this
issue in 1991 during the census and categorised him F2 (returned
migrant ) from F1 (Genuine citizen ) The government in 1991
seized his land. He was called to Sarbhang the district headquarters
and was made to gove an impression of all his 10 fingers on
a big form. He enquired as to why he was being asked to give
his finger impressions when he had not committed any crime.
The officials Only said that after these impressions he would
have to leave the country within 15 days. They paid him. 45,000/-
Nu when his property was worth 25 lakh (25,00,000) Nu.
relative who still lives in the village and meets up with
him occasionally told him that Dasho Karma From the north
Bhutan has occupied his land and is harvesting his orange
orchard. Devi Charan Chhran Chhetri was also informed that
5-6 northern Bhutanese families have settled around his land.
The northern Bhutanese occupied his house as soon as he left
the village. He himself has not gone back to the village.
his block about 300 families left Bhutan, Only 22 FAmilies
were left behind in the villages. He has heard that the resettlers
have been given 5-10,000/- Nu by the government to build shelters.
Soon his property was seized,he went to Thimpu to appeal to
the Home Minister to cancel the orders. He was referred to
the Director.The Director asked the Sarbhang district officals
to send all the papers regarding his case. After the investigation
the Directos reinstated him and gave him jos citizenship back.
The officials in Sarbhang were angry with him for having gone
to Thimpu.They confiscated all his mother's papers and threatened
him with imprisonment.So he left Bhutan on 16/6.92.
asked if he wanted to go back he said that he has been dreaming
of going back to his own house.He wanted to know if the FFT
would help him go back to his house.
Devi Chandra Chapagai
Village: Phanphaney; Block: District: Sarbhang.Tharm No. 57;House:PP-19
of origanal documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax repeipt of 1962& 1990; house
insurance of 1992; citizenship card receipt;land registration
and housing information
Has 3.70 acres of lanf in the village. Th e army came to his
house and harassed his family regularly. They would tell him
that he is Nepali so he should leave the country.He left Bhutan
in end June 1992.They took away his citizenship card.A year
after he left Bhutan,he went back to the village and no one
was on his land . Now he has heard from a neighbour who came
to visit last yer (2002) in December that a narthern Bhutanese
is settled on his land .He says he wants to go back to his
own land and whoever had brough the north Bhutanese there
should take them back.
Amar Bahadur Manger, Son of Lal Bahadur Mangar
Village&Block:Bhur, POst: Gaylephug,District: Sarbhang.
Camp: Sanischare;Sector C4/10
and housing information
His family forced to sign the VMFand given 22,000/- Nu and
evicted from Bhutan
byDasho Dungpa, the Sub Divisional Officer, in the 1992.The
VMF from was in Dzongkha language, which they did not understand,
They were made F7 category-non nationals-after the census
as they had land tax receipts of a1955 and 1985 of a village
in Chirang, where they lived before moving to Bhur. But they
did not have receipts from 1959-68 as they had moved to Bhur.They
have land tax receipt for Bhur from 1968 onwards. His younger
brother Mitra Lal was in custody for 4 months and when he
was released the family was asked to sign VMF,as he waas an
neighbours told them that their land is now in the occupation
of Major Hemant Gurang of Royal Bhutan Police.He has been
resettled there by the government.
10) Hari Ghorshai,son of lt. Padam Ghorshai
Villaage: Maintar, Bliock: Gaylephug,District.Tharn No484,House
No: MT/125.Camp : BelanggdiII Extension,Sectior A4-12
and housing information
Has 4 acres of land and 10 acres of cardamom orchards.In 1991
he was made F7 category that is a non -national (migrant or
illegel settler ).Before this he had a citizenship card, which
was confiscated. The reason for making him F7 was that he
had land tax receijpt of 1948-1955 and from 1959-91. The lcrucial
1958 receipt was missing which was taken as the sole evidence
for granting them citizenship. He said that they did not have
a land tax receipt for 1958 because that year they were asked
to work at the road construction site by the government and
in return there was an exemption from land tax that year.
His father was threatened and forced to sign VMF and was given
55,000/- Nu for his property by the Dasho Dungpa,Late Chhimmi
Dorji of Gaylephug.After signing the VMF theey were given
7 days to leave the country. ON the sixth day the new occupants
took over the house,his own family sat outside for one day
and one night.
person who has occupied his famili's land deposited money
at the Dungpa office. This person is a retred army man from
Chaubari (Jigmiling) police training center.He is a relative
of the Dungpa and of the well known furniture businessman
in Gayltschen.Hari Ghorshai said that earlier there were no
northern Bhutanese in his village.
11) Lal Bahadur Bista
Village Chengmari;Block: Chengmari; District: Samchi; Tharm
No: 116;House No. F1=07
Camp: Khudnabari, Sector D3/63-64
Copies of original documents submitted:
Land and housing : Land registration from of 1960.
and housing information
Had 4.70 acres of land in the village, with 480 betel 480
betel nut trees. In September 1992 he was taken to the district
office where he was made to give his impression on a paper
and was given 7000/-Nu26 .the officials asked him to leave
the country as they had given him expenses for the hourney.The
officials told him that if he did not go now no one would
take responsibility for his safety later.The village headman
scared him by saying that they will burn his house with him
inside.He sid many people were evicted from their homes in
his villages like this and he named some of them. His village
had 72 households and about half had to leave and eventually
came to campa in Nepal. Before the evictions,There were no
northern Bhutanese living in Chengmari.
the last 3 years, a northern Bhutanese has been occupying
his house and land.the government has put him there.A close
relative of his (Bista's) who still lives in Chengmari gave
him this information.
said that when the Southern Bhutanese were evicted,all the
electricity poles were broken and taken away in trucks by
the government.The government is now reconstructing the village
with the forced labour of the Southern Bhutanese.they also
had to clear land for the nrthern Bhutanese resettlers.According
to him the resettlers have been given bamboo for th e houses
and 3000/-Nu.they have also been given tin sheds. New facilities
such as water and electricity have been provided to them and
roads have been constructed. He said that the resettlers and
the original villagers do not Bhutanese.the land is divided
into segments and numbered,and a lottery held.
He left Bhutan on 19th September 1992 and atayed in India.He
came to camps in 1993.He said that he was targeted because
he participated in the 1990 demonstration, thought he had
not been too active. After the 1990 demonstration the village
headman and Sub Divisional Officer ordered him to keave the
country.He left the country with members of his family.
being asked if he wanted go back he said yes but did not know
what to do people are settled on his land.But he is clear
that he wants to go back to the land he has tilled.
ON 28th September 2001, the FFT visited Chengmari village
in Samchi district to verify the resettlement on Lal Bahadur
Bista's land and house.
FFT travelled by road to the Changmari Tea in Jalpaiguri District
of West Bwngal in India.there is a Chengmari village onthe
Indian side on the Chengmari Tea Estate, ehich borders tha
Bhutanese Chengmari village.The 2 villages have a common makeshift
boundary -a fence made of bamboo poles.The fence seems as
if it separates two fields. It is difficult to tell where
the Indian village ends and the Bhutanese village beings.Badri
Thapa a resident to of the Indian Chengmari village, accompanied
the FFT to Bhutanese side.the Chengmari village in Bhutan
is a big spread -out village and a broad metalled road like
a highway divides the village into two.One part below the
road and the other above the road.Below the road a number
of houses occupied by the northern Bhutanesse with prayer
flages in frontof them can be seen.One northern Bhutanese
house can been seen on the other side of the road directly
below Lal Bahadur Bista's house.
Lal Bahadur Bista's house is a 10 -minute walk up from the
road.Badri Thapa pointed out Lal Bahsdur Bista's housse.There
wereBuddhist prayer flags in front of the house.As the FFt
walked upwards tryping to get closer to the house,They came
upon a small cluster of peepul trees which is a place of ancestral
worship.This cluster is to a tap house when looking at the
house from the road .Right next to the cluster of trees is
a tap where a northern Bhutanese family - one man two woman
-were bathing .the man spoke with Badri Thapa and enquired
what the FFT was doing.Badri Thapa informed the FFT that was
the family that lived in Lal Bahadur Bista's house and the
man belonged the police or the army.
FFT requeated the wife of the headman of the village,who is
a Lhotsmpa,to come to the Indian side to talk to them, but
she refused to do so.
of the villsgers
The FFT spoke with 6 man from the village on the Indian side.
They all know Lal Bahadur Bista. According to these people
a policeman's brother is occupying Lal Bahsdur Bista's house
for the last 2 years and not policeman himself. These men
confirmed that Lal Bahadur had to leave Bhuatan for Nepal
in 1992 after the agitation. They also confirmed that Lal
Bahadur Bista's daughter Yashoda still lives in Chengmari
and is married to Gana Bahadur Paurel.ON enquiring if it was
possible to meet the daughter,they said that she lived on
the other end of the village which was far away. The villagers
told the FFT that Lal Bahadur Bista's father's house has now
been given to 4 northern Bhutanese familise.One of villagers,
Rajkumar Chhetri, said that most of the new settlers did not
speak Napali.One of the northern Bhutanese told him that were
here on a temporary basis.
Pokchi Maya Chhetri,age 52 years
Village: Pinjui, Block: Sibsoo; District: Samchi.Tharm No;House
No PB 16
Camp:Khudunabari; Sector BI/77.
of documents submitted
Land and housing: land tax receipt 1978; house insurance receipt
Other documents: school fees receipt of 1988.
and housing information
She has 4 acres of land in Pinjili which she inherited from
her father. She also had 150 betel nut trees . When she was
14 years old the land was divided between her and her sister.
All the land documents used to be kept with her brother-in
-law and uncle. The brother-in las'w house caught fire and
the records were burnt. In the census she was asked to produce
her 1958 document. She tried explaining but they would not
listen. The Dungpa said that because she did not have her
1958 document she would have to sign some documents and leave
the country. She was given 10,840/-Nu. when she signed VMF
and her husbands's and her citizenship cards were taken away.
She said that she dismantled her main house and brought the
roof and wood with her.
has learnt from reliable sources in her village that north
Bhutanese people have built a house on her neighbour's land
and are cultivating her land. She was told by her sources
that the north Bhutanese have settled on her land only a month
ago. She said that from her village about 30-35 Lhotsampa
households have moved to the refugee camp in Nepal and about
half still remain in the village. On enquiring if she knew
of any facilities the resettlers had got. she said that the
resettlers do not know Nepali and the Lhotsampa villagers
are scared to talk to them.
She said that she came to Nepal 9 years ago. Her husband has
land in a different village with his brothers, but he lived
in her village. After leaving Bhutan they stayed in India
for some time. On being asked how ling she had liver in Bhutan
she said that she and her husband were born there. Her husband's
father was from Barach and her father was from Pinjuli.
wanted to go back to Bhutan as it was her country. When the
FFT enquired about the rerettlers,she said that that government
has settleed them there and the government will have to take
them back.She said that the herself may die soon but would
want her children to live on their land in Bhutan. She said
that her wish was to die on her own land.
On 28th September 2001,the FFT team visited Pinjuli to see
the resettlement by northern Bhutanese on Pokchi Maya Chhetri's
FFT drove through Nagarkata and Taljora and then reached the
Hope Tea Estate in Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal.From
the Hope Tea Estate Abadi no 1 on the Indian side the FFT
walked down to the river Jiti and crossed the river,which
had chest high water. The Jiti river forms the boundary between
India and Bhutan. From the river the FFT crossed a few more
rivers including the Sibsoo and walked uphill for our hour
(about 5-6 km) to reach Pinjuli village.
FFT was accompanied by Bhukta Gimirey and Madhu,both of whom
are Bhutanese refugees living in the refugee camps in Jhapa
district in Nepal, and a few adivasi boys being lived in Saaboti
village in block of Samchi district with their families before
being forcibly removed from their village.IOne of the boys
said that they were asked ti leave their village in 1992 for
the green belt plantation. He said that grandfathers had been
born there. These boys now live at the Hope Tea Estate in
India and di casual labour.
Pinjili lies Hangay village,which now only 2 adivasi families
living there. While walking uphill from Hangay to Pinjili
the army camp with a few low building and prayer flags, could
be seen above pinjuli.
few asdvasis and Lhotsampa families still live in Pinjjili.In
Pinjili village the FFT first crossed 2 adivasi house and
a few Nepali soeaking houses begore reaching Pokchi Maya's
house.D who still lives in Pinjili took the FFT to Pochi Maya's
house and identfied it.Buddhist prayer flags could be seen
in front of Pokchi Maya's house. The roof of the looked new,which
confirmed what she said about dismantling the roof and bringing
it with her to the refugee camp to use. The FFT also noticed
that the main house faced east and smaller structure that
Pokchi Maya called the kitchen faced south. This was confirmed
by Pokchi Maya when FFT met her after the Pinjili visit.the
FFT drew the layout of the housse for her.
Pokchi Maya's land and house we saw another house occupied
by a north Bhutanese family and saw the whole family-men women
and young daughters-workong in the fields. the Lhotsampa families
who still live in the village told Madhu and Bhakta that the
resettlers have been given phones to inform the Bhutanese
authorities as soon as any outside enters the village.It was
not possible to confirm this.
Hangay village the FFT spoke with G whose is one of the two
families still living there.G said he was born in Hangay.
Eight adivasi families in Hangay have left the villagte after
being forced to sign the VMF.G's sons are in Khudunabari camp
in Nepel.According to G two northern Bhutanese families came
to settle here but went away as the crops were being constantly
damaged by the elephants.
Krishana Maya Rizal age 64 years
Village : Ghumauney; Block: Ghumauney; District: Samchi.Tharm
No:262; House No.D2-17
Camp: Lhudunabari,Sector A1-52
Documents seen by FFT : land tax receipt of 1965.
and housing information
Had 6 acres of land and about 3 acres of orange orchards and
bamboo plantations. The land was in her husbadn's name, after
he died it was transferred to her name. When her husband was
alive there was a dispute with simeone over the land, which
she settled by giving that man some of her land.
the 1991 census, the census official told her that he needed
her citizenship card as there was some problem with the tham
number. initially she refused to give the card but finally
agreed. When she went the next day he did not give it and
like this kept delaying it. The camp shifted to another village
- Lamtai- and she went there too. Finally the official came
to her house and told her that he had lost the citizenship
the village officials cassed her and told her that there was
an order for her to leave the village. She wanted to go to
meet her daughter in Thimpu and take her help to fight this
order. but she did not get a pass to go to Thimpu. She got
a pass only for the district. She was given 6 days to leave
or the army would come to move her and it did. She was made
to sign the V MF and was given 25,000/- Nu as "journey
expenses " . The FFT asked her the market rate of land.
She said that it was 10,000/- Nu per acre of wet land and
out of the 6 acres of land she had, 5 acres were wet land.
8 months the FFT visit, indians who live in the village across
the border from her village in Bhutan had come to the camp.
They told her some people from northern Bhutan have built
a house right where her house was. Across the border her village
is the Gathia Tea Estate. She said that on e Gobind Sardar's
nephow Arjun told her this. She said that the entire village
has been evicted and onloy on pandit (priest ) family remains
in th village. Most have signed VMF.
She came to Nepal 8 years ago . Her elder son worked in Bhutan
Oil Distribution away from the village. In 1990 the Dungpa
told her sthat her son had joined a political party outside
the country and so she should also leave the country. She
refused to go , so as a punishment she was asked to crry 10
truckloads of stones from the river bank Kunchidaina to the
Ghumauney market. She said that she still has marks on her
head because of this.
being asked if she wanted to go back, she said, "If I
can get back to the land, drink water of the land, tell my
children of the boundaries of the land and die on the land
then I will be happy. " She was very clear that she wanted
to go back to the same land. She said that " From the
age of 4 I have cleared the land So I want this land only
. I will not go anywhere else, Only on that land. "
Harka Bahadur Rai aged 32
Village: Jangatar; Block: Biroo; District; Samchi. Tharm No.
63; House JT-10 Camp: Khudunabari; Secto E2/20-21
Copies of original documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1958 & 1991 ; citizenship
card ; Photograph of the house ; land distribution (amongst
brothers ) letter.
and housing information
had a little over 6 acres of land (including wet, dry and
fallow ) and orange and cardamom orchards. One of his brothers
fearing his safety had left the country one month before the
1990 demonstrations. On February 3rd 1993 his family were
asked to either produce their brother or leave the village.
The authorities called his brother an anti-national as he
had left the country. Since they could not find the brother
they took his photograph to the police, and their name was
removed from the scensus records. They were forced to sign
the VMF and given 45,000/- Nu. Harka Bahadur Rai said that
the market value of his property was worth 10 lakh (10,00,000/-)
was told a month ago (before FFT visit), that a north Bhutanese
has settled on his land. He does not go to his village. A
man living in Jhalung No.2 on the Indian side had come to
camp and told him about the resettlement. After that his grandfather
Bir Bahadur Rai died in camp on 15th September this year (2001).
His aunt (father's sister) who also lives in Jhalung No.2
had come to the camp to attend his grandfather's death ceremony.
She too informed him about the resettlement. He showed the
FFT a photograph of his house in Bhutan that had been destroyed
when he left the village. His elder brother who still lives
in the village took the photograph.
said that about 10-11 families from his vilage in Bhutan live
in his camp, bnut they hjad not heard of their land being
occupied. Land in a different part of his village called Biroo
Khola has been occupied by northern Bhutanese.
For 3 months his family had to do forced labour-carry stones
from the river to build a road and a police camp, because
their brother was "anti-national " . His mother
also had to carry the stones. There are 14 members of the
family in camp .
enquiring if he wanted to go back to Bhutan, he replied that
it was obvious that he wanted to, that is why he had come
to meet the FFT. He categorically stated that he wants to
go back to the land he owned before he became a refugee. He
added, "My father was born there and my grandfather went
there when he was 1 year old. My family had been on the same
land for the last 90 years. "
Lok Nath Sharma Koirala. Aged 60-65 years
Village: Katusey; Block: Tendu; sDistrict: Samchi. Tharm No
137, House no: KT-20 Camp: Khudundabari, Sector G2/54-55
of original documents submitted
Land and housing: citizenship car; land tax receipt 11958&1991;
tax receipt for cardamom Plantations of 1975
and housing information
Has 10 acres of land and a two-storied house in the village.
In April 1993 he was ordered to leave the country because
he was told that he belonged sto F-7 category, that is a non-national
and could not live in Bhutan. So he left for Nepal. He does
not know why he was made F-7. He was born there and so were
all his other brothers and sisters.
has relatives on the indo-Bhutan border and they have told
him that their land and house have been taken by the north
Bhutanese. He does not go to his village in Bhutan. His relatioves
live in Parentar in India across Tendu (his village ) with
the river Jhalaka flowing in between. Many People from the
camps keep going to the border vilages. He said they have
heard several more northern Bhutanese families have come to
the village but do not know on whose land.
said that the village was his birthplace and he wanted to
go back to his own place. On being asked how he would as people
were occupying his land. He said he did not know anything
but just wanted to go back to his land.
Dili Ram sharma, son of Bhuwani Shankar Sharma
Village : Hangay; Block: Lahareni; District Samchi; Tharm
No 78, House No. K37 Camp Beldangi III Sector A1/41. Father
lives in Beldangi II S ector C4-67.
of original documents submitted
Land and housing : land tax receipt of 1958 & 1990
and housing information
Father and son together owned 12 acres. Dili Ram was asked
to leave the country at once on 12th january 1993 as his son
had fled the village. When asked to leave Dili Ram appealed
to the Dungpa to be allowed to stay on even if his son had
left. The Dungpa asked him to contact the district officials.
When he dis not the Dungpa told him to officially disown his
son. He refused to do so and was sforced to sign V MF and
given 28,200/- Nu. The form he filled had 11,000/- Nu written
against 3 acres of paddy landdy land. When he said that this
was not enough money. The Dungpa told him they have to give
lots of people money so this is all he would get.
village also had adivasi families who lived harmoniously with
the rest of the village. THe adivasis left because their neighbours
were leaving .
Dili Ram Sharma Knew, went to their village in Bhutan 15 days
before sthe FFT visit. He visited the village surreptitiously
at dusk and told dili Ram that his paddy field was being cultivated
by a northern Bhutanese with one eye. When Dili Ram himself
went to the border a year ageo (2000) he was told his land
was occupied and fields being cultivated by 2 northern Bhutanese
families. He said that some people say that that there are
about 7 northern Bhutanese families settled in the village
while some say 9 families. Only 4 families left Bhutan from
the village. He has been told that there are problems between
the new settlers and the villagers. For example if the cattle
strays into the north Bhutanese land they kill it at once.
Came to Nepal on 12/1/93. They were asked to leave the country
as his son had fled the village. His son was a teacher and
in the evening he would attend meetings for the movement.
He fled because he heard rumours of people being Killed. A
close friend of his had been killed by the government so he
got scared. The Dungpa asked him to go to the district and
plead his case. He did not have the courage to go to the district
and meet the big officials. he had heard that rich, well-known
people who go to samchi have been tortured and beaten, so
he was scared worse would happen to him.
wants to go back to his land in Bhutan. He said that it was
his land so it is his wish to go back to it, but he could
not just get up and go there. An environment needs to be created
for this. The people who have been settled on his land have
to be removed from there. If she government gives refugees
other land then they will be evicted again.
Gopi Lal Khawas Bhujel, son of jai Bahadur Bhujel
Villag: Sivalaya ; Block : Sibsoo ; District : Samchi . Tharm
No. 192; House No. SL/15 Camp : Beldangi I, Sector B3/349
of orginal documents submitted
Land and housing: land tax receipt - 1948; 1951,'55,'58,'81,;
citizenship card; selfdrawn detailed map of the village showing
Other documents: service appointment letter.
and housing information
Has more than two and a half acres of land and 150 betel nut
trees in the village. In 1992 his father and grandfather came
to Nepal after they were forced to sign the VMF and given
26,000/- Nu for 5 acres of land. Beside the cultivable land
they had some jungle land also. From his village about 15
households have left Bhutan.
the last one year a northern Bhutanese family has been resettled
on his land. he has not been back to his village since he
left. But one of his sisters Padma kumari who lives in Beldangi
II camp visited his other sister Chandra Maya who lives in
a village on the indo-Bhutan border- Morphani village in D
arjeeling district in India. Padma kumari told him of the
norht Bhutanese resettlers.
He used to work in Gaylegphug town in the power department.
He had taken part in the 1990 demonstration. after which the
Lhotsampas were harassed a lot. He wants to go back to his
land. He has drawn a detailed map of his village and marked
out his lands. He said they have not harmed or troubled the
Bhutanese government so why should they not go back. His family
has not spent the money thaty they got dat the time of VMF
but put it in a bank and do not touch it. They feel when they
go back to Bhutan they will be asked dto return it.
The system of land survey
Tek Nat Rizal explained the system of land records to the
FFT. This helped in getting a bette undrestanding of the land
documents that the FFT were looking at.
Nath Rizal is one of the most revered Southern Bhutanese dissidents.
He was imprisoned by the Bhutanese government for 11 years
for speaking in support of the Southern Bhutanese and released
in November 1999. He is a former National Assembly and Royal
Adcvisory Council member. He now lives in one room of Hotel
Himalaya in Phutsoling in Bhutan. All his properties had been
seized by the government when he wasw imprisoned and have
not been returned to him after he was released.
a proper survey was done. the people had land records called
"Char Kila "27 which described the position of land
according to whose land or what was situated in the 4 corners
of the land. The Char Kila was signed by the Sub Divisional
Officer and witnesses. This was the registration form. In
1960 chain survey . The chain survey is a very inaccurate
and crude way of surveying land. THe cadastral survey which
is a more accurate method of measuring land was done in the
late '80s. In 1976 the king had told the Southern Bhutanese
people that they should occupy fallow land next to them and
grow cash crops, plant trees and earn money. The cadastral
survey showed that people had more land than what was written
in their land records. The land Act, 1979 made the land ceilling
limit 25 acres. In most cases, the fallow land that people
had grown trees on plus the land on which their houses stood
was according to the cadastral survey, in excess of 25 acres.
the officials accused the people of cheating the king by showing
less land and beat them up .
4.3 of the land Act of 197928 stipulates that if the land
under any owner with the four boundaries not properly defined
is found inexcess of the registered quantity during the re-survey
of the land, such excess would be added to the registered
land of the owner . But the owner would have buy the extra
land from the government plus spay the tax of sthe excess
land right from the day of its cultivation. This was too harsh
a penalty for an ordinary . farmer. It was normal to own land
in excess of the registered quantity due to a faulty and inaccurate
measuremnet system prevalent prior to the eighties. The fault
was of the inaccurate survey system . Tek Nath Rizal had then
tried to convince the government in the national Assembly
that if the land was in excess let the people pay fine and
keep the land.
a local resident of Gaylegphug; Tek Nath Rizal and E from
an Indian village on the indo Bhutan border and other Southern
Bhutanese refugees gave detailed information on the resettlement
process. Both Tek Nath Rizal and B still live in Bhutan and
have a lot of information on the mood of the people.
explained the resettlement Process. He said that there are
two types of people coming to live in the lands of the evicted
Southern Bhutanese. People from the north being given land
in kasho or gift because the king is pleased with them. These
are usually well-off people and from the army or the police.
Besides Kasho, landles northern Bhutanese are being resettled
on the land of the southern Bhutanese. In each district a
list of landless is taken out and then land in south Bhutan
is allotted to them . E said that in Lalai village amongst
the resettlers about 80% are landless people and some retired
Southern Bhutanese labour uses to clear the land and prepare
it for the resettlers. E said that to clear the jungles for
the north Bhutanese resettlers about 1000-1500 Indian Labourers
from Baghmara were employed in 1997-98.
is a change in the structure of the village in southe bhutan
after the arrival of athe resettlers. Earlier the Lhotsampas
constructed their houses on their firels, so the houses vere
spread throughout the village. Now the resettlers have their
houses together in a cluster in the village and the land that
cultivate is away from sthe homes. Tek Nath Rizal pointed
out that one person's land is being levelled and distributed
to 3 different people and this was spoiling the land.
to B the people who are resettled have the land in their name
now. But the government has asked them not to make permanent
concrete structures, Only make Kutcha Houses. He does not
know why and his interpretation is that the government is
aware that they may have to ask the resettlers to leave at
a later stage. Even those who have got land in Kasho are not
allowed to sell land.
Nath Rizal also pointed out that RGOB was changing the names
of the villages in southern districts. Some names of places
were totally changed and others were modified so that it sounded
like names of northern villages with Dzongkha names. This
meant that over time no records of these villages it would
not be on records. for example, Bhakta Ghimirey told the F
FT that the name of D anabari village in Lalai block of Sarbhang
district has been renamed Chuzagang . 29
Presence of north Bhutanese in South Bhautan before resettlement.
theree of them-Tek Nath Rizal, B&E, in separate discussion
with the FFT - said that before the evictions of the Southern
Bhutanese there were almost no northern Bhutanese living in
Southern districts of Bhutan. According to them only Nepali
speaking people lived in southern Bhutan. According to them
only Nepali Speaking People lived in Southern Bhutan. Even
the Bhutanese refugees who were interviewed said this. E said
that the northern Bhutanese have been resettled in Lalai Only
for the last 2-3 years, since 1998. Between 1991 and 1998
all the land remained empty and had become a jungle and often
elephants would come. Ganga Ram Bhandari a resident of Lalai
who lives in the refugee camp said that before they had been
evicted there were no north Bhutanese living in their village.
Nath Rezal said that Indian government officials who worked
in different capacilties at district level in Bhutan such
as agriculture, amimal husbandry or the engineering department
would be able to testify if there were any northern Bhutanese
in south Bhutan. He said most of the departments were any
northern Bhutanese in south Bhutan. He said most of the departments
were run by Indian oficials.
RGOB claims that the resettlement of landless is not new but
has been going on since 1974. Tek Nath Rizal has countered
this claim by pointing out that the earlier settlement of
landless was done on government land ad not on previously
occupied lands by making the forme5r occupants homeless. THe
other king of settlemet6 was when members of the royal family
were given forest land the they got people from the north
or the south to help clear land for them and would settle
these labourers on the land gifted to them .
of the resettlers
According to E the resettlers in Lalai village have not created
any problems for the Baghamara villages (Indian Village on
the border). they (the resettlers) are having a very difficult
time. They are from the north where it is cold and they are
not used to the heat of the terai foothills. They are also
not used to water. Six people were washed away in the river
in the first year. Besides there is a lot of malaria in this
area which they are not used to. The north Bhutanese cannot
farm and the labour from Baghmara does the farming for them
on batai (share cropping).
late the bhutanese government has not been allowing Indian
labourers into Bhutan. According to E the resettlers wanted
to return but were persuaded by the RGOB not to go . He says
that each family was given a Phillips radio as an incentive
to stay. B also said that the resettlers in Lalai and Danabari
had been given a lot of facilities as incentives for resettling
there. But the resettlers in Lodarai had not got anything.
said that the resettlers were not happy that they had been
given land of evictees. They were worried about what will
happen to them when the refugees return to claim their own
lands. Tek Nath Rizal said that he too had information that
the north Bhutanese settlers were told that they were being
given vacant land. When they reached the lands allotted to
them they found orchards and guessed that other people lived
there. This makes them upset and they feel that the children
of the original owners will come and fight with them. Apparently
they have petitioned the the King to change their land.
resettlers are also worried about the situation across the
border in India relating to ULFA militancy. There has been
a concern that the ULFA are setting up camps in south Bhutan.
E said that the new settlers are acared as they have been
told that there will be fighting with the ULFA and able-bodied
persons should stay and the rest leave. Tek Nath Rizal also
said that he had heard of similar information being given
to the resettlers. The resettlers were being warred about
the war with the ULFA and had been told all the tough people
will be recruited in the army. B said that the dzongdag or
district officer Dorjee in a public meeting in Gaylegphug
told the resettlers to go back as there would be a war with
ULFA and to return only when it is over.
of holy places due to resettlement
Tek Nath Rizal was concerned about the desecration of holy
places of the Lhotsampas in their villages in Bhutan. It was
customary for the Lhotsampas to have holy places in their
village where they either did devi puja31 or had remembrance
stones for their ancestors or a peepul tree grove where they
prayd. The north Bhutanese settlers do not realise the significance
of these holy places and either tie animals in these places
or have made toilets in these places and this hurts the sentiments
of the people. For example the tulsi mandir32 made by Tek
Nath Rizal as a memorial for his mother in his village Lamidara
in Chirang district has become a pig pen. The pen. The peepul
grove ehere they prayed and tied threads to the trees has
been cut down. He said that this had also happened in Dhansay
and Kaligaon in chirang district.
Exproriation of property
The property of political activists and prisoners was seized
when they were imprisoned and has not been given back to them
after they were relesed. This creates a lot of hardship for
these people, making day to day survival problematic as some
of them still live in Bhutan.
Hari Prasad Adhikari who lives in Khudunabari refugee camp
had his immovable property and bank account seized. His truck
and his rice mill were auctioned.
B said that D. B. Sudedi who lives in Gaylegphug town was
imprisoned along with his 3 sons in gaylegphug jail from 1990-94.
His immovable property that he had bought on his own was seized
along with his Maruti vehicle. He was a National Assembly
member for 8 years. He has also not been given his gratuity
Nath Rizal was released in December 1999 after 11 years of
imprisonment. He was granted a yoyal pardon because had not
physically carried out acts of violence and terror. he says
that if the government has released him because he had not
done anything wrong, so then why had they not given his property
back. He has land in Lamidara village in Chirang district
and property in Gaylegphug. He has 4 houses where his forefathers
lived and these have been reportedly demolished. His land
in Lamidara has been given to the uncle of the ing. The commercial
property in Gaylehphug was on l loan of 40,000/- Nu. since
his release in December 1999 he has been living in a small
room in Hotel Himalaya in Phuntsoling town .
are many others whose properties have been seized and not
returned. C said that parashuram Ghimerey, Padam Lal Lnuiytel
and Chet Bahadur Wakhley from Surey Villege in Sarbhang district
have not got their seized property back.
The FFT was informed about the problems of schooling faced
by children in South Bhutan pariticularly Lhotsampas. Most
of them study in the bordering Indian towns and villages.
said that a "No Objection Certificate " Or NOC is
required in Bhutan for almost everything without NOC it is
difficult to do anything in Bhutan - Such as get a license
to do business; get contracts; get school admissions or benefit
of other services. There is a big well maintained primary
and high school in Ga;ylegphug just @ km from the border which
the FFT saw while going to Lodrai. If anyone has been to jail
or one member of the family is in India then it is difficult
to get NOC. B said that about 400-500 Lhotshampa children
from Bhutan go every day across the border to Hatisar on the
Indian side to attend school as their parents do not get the
No Objection Certificate.
said that the northern Bhutanese also require NOC for their
children's school admission but the difference is theat it
is very easy for them to get this. He was made to run around
from one department to the other for an NOC for his children's
school and then finaloly told that there is no place in their
school for the children.
Chhetri a resident of Hatisar and indian village which borders
the town of Gaylegphug confirmed that Lhotsampa children come
every day to study in schools on the Indian side, His family
has been living in Hatisar for about a century. His 3 children
and his brother's 2 children study at a private school in
Hatisar called Navjyoti School run by a man from Kerala. According
to pradeep and his family about 80 percent of the children
in the school are from Gaylegphug across the border.
of baghmara vuillage said that a school was coming up 3 km
away near the Danabari army camp. THe children of Lhotsasmpas
are not allowed in the schools if they have any member of
their family in refugee camps. F whom the FFT met near pinjuli
village in Sibsoo Block of Samchi district, Bhutan said that
the children of people who took part in the 1990 drmonstrationare
not given admission in schools.
The verification process to cherck if the refugees in the
camps are genuine Bhutanese or not, began in Khudunabari camp
in March 2001 . As of now, Khudunabari camp is the Only one
where verification has taken place . AThe verification is a
between RGOB and the HMG Nepal. There is a joint verification
team (JVT) of the 2 governments which interviews families and
makes them fill a verification form 33 . In October 1993 both
the governments had agreed on 4 categories into which people
in refugee camps would be classified, THese categories are : 1
) Bona fide Bhutanese and 4 ) Bhutanese who have cmmitted
criminal acts. THere are supposed to be a number of stages
after the verification, such as categorization ; harmonization
and then repatriation of the refugees. Since the memorandum of
undrestanding between the two governments is not a public
document, it is not certain which stage will follow
verification and there is no indication as to when
repatriation of the refugees will take ploace. The last few
families and individuals of Khudunabari were interviewed for
verification on 13th December 2001 .
get a complete view on the verification process and its implications
and the experiences of the refugees the FFT spoke with tek
nath Rizal; the refugees inthe camps, some of whom had gone
through the verification process ; R.B. Basinet formerly in-charge
of th national budget and now the president of a political
party, Bhutan National Democratic Party; the UNHCR in jhapa
where the camps are located and the Kathemandu office; and
the foreign Secretary of Nepal.
Nath Rizal said that the Nepal and Bhutan governments connot
and should not talk to each other about the refugee issue
without including the refugees. He felt that the verification
forms do not ask for enough information about the property
of the refugees. He felt that to get the complet picture,verification
should be done in a workshop or camp-style with the whole
village sitting together where details about the refugees
land should be asked, such as, where was their land, how did
they get to their village, what did they grow , who were their
neighbours, etc. He feels that after verification the Bhutan
governmetn will nor bring the refugees back but will think
of some other broblem. His opinion is that verification and
repatriation should lead people back to their own place and
not anywhere else.
meeting with the representatives from the different refugee
camps was held in Damak, Jhapa, Nepal on 29th September 2001.
There were 8 people present at the meeting some of whom were
form Khudunabari camp and had gone through the verification
refugees present said that they were not happy with the process
of verification. There was no representation of the UNHCR
and the refugees themselves in the whole verification process.
One person who had just been through the joint verification
process said that not enough information about their property
was aske, THe JVT only wanted information on where their lands
were located. all the refugees present felt that the whole
issue of repatriation should be joined with verification process.
One of them said that when "the joint verificatrion "
has started they had told the Nepal governmetn and the UNHCR
that information on the property should be included. They
were told by the UNHCR and the Nepal government that they
were not finding out anything besides whether the refugees
were Bhutanese or non-Bhutanese. According to the Nepal government
the refugees should discuss and settle the rest of the issues
when they got back to Bhutan. The refugees said that the Nepal
government had told them that they were taking part in the
exercise because the Bhutan government was saying that they
are not Bhutanese, but they (Nepal government) believed them
to be refugees.
refugee from Khudunabari said that they were all expelled
from the country by the government on different pretexts.
Now sit was easy for the RGOB during verification to ask why
they had been expelled or reasons sfor coming out. He said,
"Our stories are long and when we begin to explain and
talk about repression of the Bhutanese government the verification
team asks us to stop ".
refugees said that they wanted to go back to their original
properties, where they lived. One of them felt that there
was no point telling the verification team where they came
from if people are resettled there. bacause where will they
(refugees) go .
was a general feeling amongst the people that the Bhutan government
was trying to prolong the process. They felt it was not difficult
to identify Bhutanese as it was a small country and it should
not take so much time One person from Khudanabari camp said,
"we are convinced we are Bhutanese and we do not want
to take any non-Bhutanese back." They felt that the Bhutanese
government knows how many people there are in the camps. Another
person from Khudunabari said that the RGOB was trying to prolong
the peocess so that the older people who have information
about land and property will no longer be there.
refugees also complained that they did not get any receipts
to say that they have appeared before the JVT and that were
treated like sheep and goats. One female refugee feom Khudunabari
camp felt that Only the head of the household were asked questions
and not the women. Often the women had been left behind in
Bhutan to handle things, after the men had fled. In her case
her husband had to leave 10 months before she did. She was
the one who left the house and the property was seized from
her hands, but the JVT did not ask her anything, Only asked
her husband. She said that she was not satisfied by the verification.
Basinet of Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP)34 felt
that the Nepazli govrnment or the UNCHR were not doing enough
on the issue of repatriation. He felt that Bhutan did not
want the refugees to go back and was using delay tactics so
sthat they can finish their resettlement work. He said that
there should be international pressure on Bhuan by the donor
community and India. According to him India was not putting
enough pressure on Bhutan. He felt that Nepal had made fundamental
mistakes in accepting the categorisation and was not pressurising
Bhutanese government sufficiently on this (the refugee) issue.
He also felt that the Nepali government had not taken the
refugees into confidence.
head of the UNHCR sub-office in jhapa, Michael Zwack, Stressed
that Verification was a bilateral issue and the UNHCR has
been excluded. The UNHCR was still trying sdto dialogue with
the two governments for a durable solution to the refugee
problem. He said that th UNHCR is keen that the refugees are
repatriated with honour, safety and dignity. THe UNHCR was
witing and watching till the Khudunabari verification was
over. According to him the Bhutanese government have said
that Khudunabari is a test case and would streamline their
procedures after this camp is complete. According to him the
refugee are gaining confidence from the JVT.
the meeting with the natiobnal office of the UNHCR in kathmandu
with supang sguansaitgul, Deputy representative UNHCR; Roland-Francois
weil the protection officer, the UNHCR reiterated that the
verification was a bilateral process and that they were outsiders.
They said that both the governments do not want the UNHCR
involved, Since the Nepal govrnment do not want the UNHCR
involved. Since the nepal government is their govrnment of
contact they try and dialogue with them. they are trying to
play a facilitating role with both the governments. The protection
officer said that he was aware of the refugees wishes to include
the UNH CR in the verification Process. He also said that
the UNHCR will have to be involved at the repatriation stage.
secreatary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Narayana S. Thapa,
felt that the resettlement issu should not be raised till
the outcome of the Khudunabari camp's verification was clear.
with international Human Rights Laws
this chapter the facts ascertained and the data collected
by teh FFT has been analysed to see how far Bhutan has complied
with its obligation to protect the rights of the refugees
under international human rights law. Bhutan has ratified
only two of the main human rights treaties, the Convention
Against Elimination Against all kinds of Discrimination Against
women (CEDAW) and convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
and signed but not ratified the Convention Against Racial
Discrimination (CERD). The situation of the Bhutanese refugees
should be seen against the well established, commen aceptable
standards of international human rights law and practice that
protect the rights of the refugees. In particular, How does
the resettlement of people from northern Bhutan on the refugees
' lands affect their right to repatration with dignity, honour
and safety ?
resettlement of Bhutanese from the north on Lhotsampa lands
raises concern that the verification process initiated in
teh refugee camps is an eyewash on the part ot te RG OB .
The fact that resettlement of northern Bhutanese on the lands
of the refugees in southern Bhutan is taking place at the
same time as the verification process in Khudunabari camp
does not demonstrate good faith on the part of the RGOB or
a genuine intention to repatriate the refugees. THis also
raises doubts as sthe possibility of voluntary repatriation
of the Bhutanese refugees with honour, dignity and safety
as required under international human rights and refugee law.
The FFT obtained field as well as secondary evidence that
resettlement was an ongoing programme since 1997 .
the Bhutanese refugees that the FFT interviewed said that
people from northern Bhutan have been resettled on their lands
in their home villages. They claim that there were no northern
Bhutanese settlers in their villages while they were living
in Bhutan, Before being forcibly removed. This was verified
by the Indian villagers living on the Indo-Bhutan border.
The FFT itself saw northern Bhutanese occupying the houses
of the refugees and cultivation their fields. As per fact-finding
information the resettlement in jSarbhang district has been
going on since 1998 and in Samchi district it began from late
RGOB itself admits that resettlement is taking place in the
southern districts of Bhutan and is an ongoing process. In
the national Assembly proceedings from 1995 to 1999 35 , as
reported in the government - owned news magazine the Kuensel
Weekly, the RGOB claims that the resettlement programme is
a great success. It was reported that both resettlers and
the people of the village had asked for the resettlement
programme and were very hapy with it and had thanked the
king. Resettlement was an important issue in the National
Assembly and was on the agenda of every session.
The National Assembly
proceedings clearly indicate the intention and process of
resettling people from the northern districts on lands of the
refugees in south Bhutan. In the 1995 National Assembly
proceedings, the representatives said that although it had
been requested in the earlier sessions of the National
Assembly that the landless people and people with insufficient
land should be rehabilitated on the land left behind by the
Lhotsampas who had taken kidu soilra36 and emigrated, this has
still not been done. As a result while these vacant lands were
turning into jungle, the people with little or no land were
facing great hardship
leaving these fertile agriculture land
in the south unattended year after year only increases the
hopes of the ngolops37 in Nepal to return.
In the 1996 National Assembly it
was said that, the people of Samdrupjonkhar Dzongkhag
(district) submitted that the lands of the people who have
left the country after selling their properties have now
turned into forest. The wild animals in the forest are
damaging crops in nearby field
it would be a kidu to the
landles people and those with very small land holdings
these lands were given to them.
The proceedings also indicate
that the resettlement is a clearly thought-out plan of the
government. In the 77th National Assembly held in
1999 a resettlement committee was mentioned. A Resettlement
Committee headed by the Home Minister had been appointed by
His Majesty the King in 1997 to identify families which needed
to be resettled. The applications for land kidu and
resettlement are thoroughly investigated to include only those
(i) who are landless, (ii) who donot have enough land to
subsist on and (iii) those who depend solely on tseri
(shifting) for livelihood.
The Government claims that the
resettlement programme is an old one being carried out since
1974. Whatever the situation earlier it is clear that this
phase of the resettlement on refugee land started in 1997.
Though the surveys of those doing tseri cultivation were being
done from 1995-1996.
.it would not be feasible to start
resettlement during the monsoon season but every effort would
be made to start resettlement programme by October 1997.38
The National Assembly
proceedings of 1999 also indicate the number of people who
have been resettled. The Secretary of survey informed members
of the National Assembly that in 1997, 1,500 families had
applied for resettlement and after a thorough investigation of
their cases, 750 families were resettled. Last year (1998)
1,500 applications were received, out of which 1,159 families
The National Assembly
proceedings indicate an effort to show that the people from
the southern districts and the landless from the north were
repeatedly requesting that resettlement should take place, as
it would be good for both. In the 1997 National Assembly it
was reported The peoples representatives from Mongar
conveyed the gratitude of the people to His Majesty the King
for announcing the resettlement programme for the landless
people and Tseri cultivators during the National Day at
Gelephu last year. This announcement was an answer to peoples
repeated submission on the 70,71,72,73rd sessions
of the National Assembly for the resettlement of landless
people. There were 674 households from Mongar Dzongkhag that
had applied for immediate resettlement.
Submissions were also made by
the peoples representative from Sarpang on behalf of the
people of Bhur, Serzhong, Gelephu, Danabhari and Kalikhola
gewogs (blocks) in Sarpang Dzongkhag (Sarbhang District) that
landless people should be resettled on vacant land in their
Dzongkhag. The vacant land, overgrown with forests, was
providing a haven for terrorists and also for wild animals.
..The peoples representatives trom Pemagatshel also
reiterated the repeated requests made by the people from her
Dzongkhag for early resettlement of landless people and tseri
cultivators on land available in any part of the country
The Samtse Dzongda submitted
that the public of Samtse had repeatedly requested for
resettlement of landless people on vacant land in Samtse
Dzongkhag in the Block Development Committee and District
Development Committee meetings
..He said that there are two
main reasons why the public of Samtse are requesting for
landless people to be resettled in Dzongkhag
presence of the resettlers will provide them with the company
of many more people and thereby help reduce the incidence of
These requests also raise a
question about the sudden availability of so much excess land
with the government. In each on the National Assembly
proceedings between 1995-99 this excess land has been
mentioned. It needs to be remembered that this land belongs to
the Lhotsampas who are living as refugees in Nepal.
At the 77th National
Assembly proceedings in 1999 there is clear evidence that
resettlement had begun
The Royal Advisory Councillors had
visited the resettlement areas in the course of their tours
assess the welfare of the people.
There is an effort to show that
the resettlement process is a success and people are very
happy with it. At the National Assembly it was reported that
The resettlement programme has proved to be a strong force
for national integration said the Sarpang chimi. In Sarpang
Dzongkhag for example the resettlers who come from all parts
of the country and the existing inhabitants are beginning to
cultivate a mutually benefical relationship. The local farmers
teach their agricultural practices and methods to the
resettlers who in turn have brought along their own methods
and practices. Meanwhile farmers from different parts of the
country are enriching each others culture and value systems.
This gives an incorrect picture
of the ground reality. All the people that the FFT spoke with
said that the resettlers are not used to farming in the terai
(the foothills of the mountains) and are having a very
difficult time. E41 said that the resettlers are not
cultivating themselves, but giving land in sharecropping to
the people from the Indian villages. He also mentioned that
they are not used to the climate or the conditions of the
southern districts. The information about resettlers and local
inhabitants developing a mutually beneficial relationship is
misleading. In most of the villages in Sarbhang district,
after the forcible evictions of the Lhotsampas from their
lands there is hardly anyone left in the original village. For
example, in 1991, in Lalai village in Sarbhang district, the
villagers were either forcibly evicted from the country or had
fled the village to Lodarai or elsewhere. Some came back when
the situation became less tense. According to some people
there are only 3 original Lhotsampa families left in Lalai and
because of the language barrier there is almost no
intermingling with the resettlers.
The claims made that the
resettlers were keen to be resettled in the southern districts
seems doubtful looking at the notice found in Kuensel Times
dated 20th March 1999 42 that announces The
landless people from other Dzongkhag who got land allotted in
Tsirang Dzongkhag under the resettlement programme have failed
to report despite repeated requests from the Dzongkhag. The
notice asks the people to report to the administration
immediately and non-compliance will be viewed seriously. If
the people allotted land do not report the administration will
not be viewed seriously. If the people allotted land do not
report the administration will not be responsible for any
complications. The fact-finding team too was told about the
various incentives given to the people who had resettled so
that they do not return to their original homes.
RGOBs claim that the land is
given only to the landless or to people subsisting on shifting
cultivation is not wholly correct. The FFT saw43 a northern
Bhutanese police officer or his brother who had been resettled
and was also informed about retired army personnel; well
connected businessman and relatives of Sub-Divisional Officers
who had occupied the refugee lands or houses which were on the
Giving land to the landless as
the RGOB is claiming of doing, is a progressive policy. It
fulfils the land and housing rights obligations of a state
under international human rights law. But the land and housing
rights of one set of people cannot be protected by making
another set of people, that is the refugees, landless and
Bhutan government has claimed
that the resettlement programme is an old one. The Secretary
of Survey informed the members
that since 1974, a total of
15,125 families had been resettled
. .. therefore resettlement
was not a new issue discussed in the National Assembly44. It
is difficult to get information about the earlier resettlement
programmes. The former Royal Advisory Council member Tek Nath
Rizal said that earlier resettlemtnt programmes involved
settling landless on excess government land and not on refugee
Bhutan violated the principles
of natural justice and international human rights law when it
amended the citizenship laws with retrospective effect to
revoke and deny citizenship of the Lhotsampas. This has been
well documented by different authors and human rights
organizations45. The FFT met people whose citizenship had been
Article 15 (2) of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that No one should
be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality. There is a
consensus in the international community towards reducing
statelessness. A person should not be deprived of nationality
if it would render him or her stateless. The UN General
Assembly at its 50th Session in 1995, called on
States to adopt nationality legislation with a view of
reducing statelessness, consistent with the fundamental
principles of international law, in particular by preventing
arbitrary deprivation of nationality and by eliminating the
provisions that permit the renunciation of a nationality
without the prior permission or acquisition of another
The new law on citizenship
enacted by the RGOB in 1985 was used to revoke the citizenship
of a large number of Southern Bhutanese people. None of the
Southern Bhutanese have acquired another nationality as is
usually contingent for a State revoking citizenship.
Under the provisions of earlier
law, The Citizenship Law, 1958, a person would be a citizen if
his or her father was a Bhutanese national and resident of the
country or if a non-national had resided in the Kingdom for
more than 10 years and owned agricultural land. Most of the
Southern Bhutanese had been granted or were entitled to
citizenship under these provisions.
The new law, The Bhutan
citizenship Act, 1985, was used discriminatorily and
arbitrarily to deny and revoke the citizenship of the
Lhotsampas. The provisions of the 1985 Act required both
parents to be citizens to become a citizen by birth. To get
citizenship by registration required a person to be
permanently domiciled in Bhutan on or before 31st
December 1958. This provision was used with retrospective
effect. In 1988 a census was carried out only in southern
Bhutan to implement the provisions of the 1985 citizenship
Act. Many Southern Bhutanese citizens who during the census
could not show land tax receipts of 1958 were suddenly
categorized as non-nationalist. This provision especially
targeted the Lhotsampas and was used to forcibly remove them
from the country.
The FFT met many people whose
citizenship was revoked by implementing the provisions of the
1985 law retrospectively. Rabi Lal Timshina from Sarbhang
district was a citizen in 1988 and in 1991 was made an F5
category that is a non-national man married to a Bhutanese
woman. In 1991 Hari Gorshai of Sarbhang district was made f7
category that is a non-national. Before this he had a
citizenship card, which was confiscated. The reason for making
him f7 was that he had land tax receipt of 1948-1955 and from
1959-1991. The crucial 1958 receipt was missing which was
taken as the sole evidence for granting citizenship. Pokchi
Maya Chhetri of Samchi district had her citizenship card
confiscated because she could not produce the 1958 land tax
receipt. The Bhutan Citizenship Act of 1985 was used
discriminately against the Lhotsampas thereby violating the
provisions of the CERD which Bhutan has signed and to which it
is morally bound. Article 5(d) of CERD protects against
discrimination on the basis of national or ethnic origin in
the enjoyment of right to nationality.
It is also crucial to note that
the law in Bhutan does not allow non-nationals to own land. KA
12-2 Thrimzhung Chhenpo, The General Law Book,47 the first
legislation in the history of Bhutan published in 1957, makes
it explicitly clear that land cannot be sold, gifted or given
free of cost or for writing off loans, to non-nationals. This
implies that non-nationals could not own land in Bhutan. The
Land Act of Bhutan of 1979 48 in Chapter 5, Section 9
contains the same provisions as in the Thrimzhung Chhenpo
which makes it impossible for non-nationals to acquire land in
Bhutan. The law is so stringent that it even penalizes the
person who sells or gives it free of cost to a non-national.
Therefore anyone who owned land after 1957 had to be a
citizen. On the basis of this it is logical to infer that all
the people who showed the FFT their land tax receipts are
nationals or citizens of Bhutan. The Bhutan Citizenship Act,
1985 was used to revoke citizenship of all these people.
Bhutan has an obligation under
the CRC to protect the rights of a child to acquire
nationality in particular where the child would otherwise be
stateless.49 Bhutan also has to respect the right of every
child to preserve his or her identity, including
nationality50. Bhutans Citizenship Act of 1985 was used to
revoke the citizenship of the Lhotsampas making them refugees.
Not only is there uncertainty regarding the nationality status
of refugees but also of their children and those born in the
The forcible removal of the
Southern Bhutanese refugees from their homelands amounts to
forced eviction violating the international human rights law
on adequate housing and land rights. The U.N. Commission on
Human Rights has said that the practice of forced evictions
constitutes a gross violation of human rights in particular
the right to housing51.
According to the U.N. Sub
Commission52 the practice of forced eviction constitutes a
gross violation of a broad range of human rights in particular
the right to adequate housing, the right to remain, the right
to freedom of movement, the right to privacy, the right to
property, the right to an adequate standard of living the
right to security of the home, the right to security
Forced evictions have been
defined as permanent or temporary removal against their will
of individuals, families and or communities from the homes and
or lands which they occupy without the provision of, and
access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection by
the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural riths53. The
Committee has said that forced evictions also take place in
forced relocations in the context of refugee
All the refugees that the FFT
spoke with, their relatives and friends in bordering villages
testify how they were forced to leave their villages in Bhutan
overnight under threat to life. Almost all of them had to
leave behind all their possessions such as grains, utensils,
cattle, etc. Some of the refugees houses were burnt down.
The RGOB claims that many of the
people emigrated willingly after signing voluntary migration
forms (VMF) and getting compensation. Under the provisions of
the Citizenship Law, 1958 as revised in 1977, an application
for permission to emigrate during times of crisis has to be
kept pending till normalcy returns54. 1990 was a crisis time
in the southern districts of Bhutan as demonstrations were
held all over these districts against the census policy of the
government and driglam namza55 policy which was discriminatory
towards the Lhotsampas.
The Lhotsampas who had signed
the voluntary migration forms claim to have been coerced under
threat to life and safety into signing the VMF and into saying
that they had left the country voluntarily. While signing the
forms they were given some money on the pretext of travel
allowance. This money was supposed to be compensation for
their house and land but was much less than the market value
of the property. The Government itself admits that the money
was just Kidu Soirla56 or a small gift. In most cases the
people did not know what the VMF said.
Under Section 5 (10) of the Land
Act of 1979 if anyone forfeits citizenship they have to inform
the government 12 months in advance and can sell property only
after taking permission. In case the people are in a hurry to
leave the country then the government will decide how much it
will pay for the property. The RGOB may use this provision to
show that the people where in a hurry to migrate and so they
willingly signed the VMF and took less money. But it seems
unrealistic that people would give up fertile lands and
orchards for less than one fourth the price to live in refugee
camps. Kashi Nath Gimiray from Sarbhang, now living in Goldhap
camp was made to sign the VMF and given 32,000/-Nu for 4 acres
of land and 4 acres of orchards and 2 houses. He said that his
land was worth 1,20,000/-Nu. He said that he was asked to sign
the VMF as his sons had been declared anti-national by the
government. Devi Charan Chhetri from Sarbhang now living in
Goldhap camp got 45,000/- as compensation for 14.70 acres of
land, which he says was worth 23 lakh (23,00,000) Nu. Krishna
Maya Rizal from Samchi district, now living in Khudunabari
camp had 6 acres of land and 3 acres of orchards. She said
that she was given 25,000/-Nu and told that it was journey
expenses. According to her the market value of the land was
10,000/-Nu per acre of wetland and she had 5 acres of wetland.
Lal Bahadur Bista was given 7000/- Nu for 4.70 acres of land.
Even the King has talked about
forced evictions of the Lhotsampas. A Royal Decree by King
Jigme Singye Wangchuk57 states that At a time when Bhutan is
going through a very difficult period, it has come to my
notice that because of the present disturbed situation in
our country, some people in Southern Districts are emigrating
permanently to other countries. Reports have also been heard
that administration and security officials in the districts
are forcing some of our Bhutanese nationals to leave the
The issue of loss of nationality
and forced evictions becomes crucial because the verification
of the refugees at Khudunabari camp has just been concluded.
The RGOB and the Nepal government have agreed to 4 categories
into which the refugees in the camps will be classified. The
Lhotsampas whose citizenship has been arbitrarily reveked by
the new citizenship law would be called non-Bhutanese and
those who have signed the VMF may be categorized has those who
emigrated voluntarily. As of now there is no indication about
which categories will be repatriated but there is a concern
amongst the refugee community that only those whom the RGOB
calls bonafide Bhutanese would be repatriated and not the
rest. What needs to be recognized is that the Lhotsampas who
have been targeted by the new citizenship law and the VMF are
bonafide Bhutanese who have been forcibly evicted.
The testimonies and actions of
all the Southern Bhutanese refugees indicate their prime
desire to return to their land in their villages in south
Bhutan. Each of the refugees said that they wanted to go back
to their home villages but were concerned about the news and
Information that north Bhutanese
were being settled on their lands. They were categorical about
going back to their very own land and properties and did not
want to go and settle anywhere else. The intention to go back
to their lands in Bhutan is also indicated by the careful
manner in which each of them have kept the compensation money
given to them at the tome of signing the VMF in a fixed
deposit in a bank on the premise that when they return to
their village the government would ask for the money to be
The right of refugees to return
to their country of residence (origin) and to their own
properties is well established in international human rights
law and refugee law. As seen below the various UN treaties and
charter bodies and UNHCR ExCom59 resolutions have established
that the right of refugees to return is not restricted to
those who are nationals but is applicable to all those who
were habitual residents of the country which they had to
leave. Most of the Lhotsampas in refugee camps have been
forcibly evicted or their nationality stripped arbitrarily and
would be able to prove habitual residence in Bhutan.
Article 13(2) of the UDHR says
that Everyone has the right to leave any country including
his own, and to return to his own country.
Article 12(4) of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states
that No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to
enter his own country. The Human Rights Committee60 states
that the right of a person to enter his or her own
country..includes not only the right to return after having
left ones own country, it may also entitle a person to come
to the country for the first time if he or she was born
outside the country. The right to return is of utmost
importance for refugees seeking voluntary repatriation. The
Human Rights Committee also stated that A State party must
not, by stripping a person of nationality or by expelling an
individual to a third country, arbitrarily prevent this person
from returning to his or her own country.
More importantly the UN Special
Rapporterur on the former Yugoslavia has stressed on the
right to return to ones home of origin as a fundamental
The UN Sub-Commission on
Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in its Resolution
1997/29 affirms the right of refugees
to return voluntarily,
in safety and dignity, to their country of origin and within
them to their place of origin or choice, and urges Governments
to assist in and facilitate such return. The UN
Sub-Commission Resolution61 on housing and property
restitution in the context of the return of refugees and
internally displaced persons Reaffirms the rights of all
refugees as defined in relevant instruments
to return to their
homes and places of habitual residence in their country and /
or place of habitual residence.
The UNHCR ExCom Conclusions on
Voluntary Repatriation No 40 1985 also stresses on the right
of the refugees to return to the country of origin The basic
right of persons to return voluntarily to the country of
origin is reaffirmed and it is urged that international
cooperation be aimed at achieving this solution.
Not only has the right of
refugees to return their countries of origin been established
but their right to return to their own properties and lands
has also been specifically stated by the UN General
Assenbly62, the Commission on Human Rights and the
Sub-Commission as well as in the UNHCR ExCom Conclusions.
The UN Sub-Commission63 not only
reaffirms the right of all refugees
to return to their homes
and places of habitual residence but also states that
adoption or application of laws by States which are designed
to or result in the loss or removal of tenancy, use, ownership
or other rights connected with housing or property, the active
retraction of the right to reside within a particular place or
laws of abandonment employed against the refugees
impediments to the return and reintegration of refugees
urges government to develop effective and speedy legal
mechanisms to enable refugees to return to their lands and
UNHCR ExCom Conclusion64 states
that the repatriation of the refugees should be carried out in
safety and preferably to the place of residence of the refugee
in the country of origin. It further stresses that Promotion
of voluntary repatriation as a solution to the refugee
requires political will of the States directly
concerned to create conditions conducive to this solution.
This the primary responsibility of States.
Though none of the above creates
a formal legal obligation on Bhutan as it has not ratified the
ICCPR or the Convention on Refugees, they do indicate the
current accepted international human rights standards
regarding repatriation of refugees. These have been followed
in different situations of repatriation of refugees around the
world. These universally accepted norms and standards are
persuasive interpretations and create moral obligations, which
Bhutan would be hard pressed to violate.
RGOB will have to stop
resettlement of north Bhutanese on the lands and properties of
the Bhutanese refugees to illustrate its good faith in
protecting the rights of the refugees and to create conditions
conductive to repatriation. The verification, which has just
concluded in Khudunabari camp, is being called a test case.
The verification of all the refugees in Khudunabari camp has
been completed by13th December 2001. As of now the
verification does not deal with repatriation at all and the
Bhutanese refugee community is not convinced that the
verification would lead to repatriation.
The categorization that was
insisted upon by the RGOB and the ongoing resettlement
programmes do not illustrate genuine intention of the RGOB to
protect the right of the refugees under international law.
There has been little indication what the process will be
after verification, which of the categories will be
repatriated, leading to confusion amongst the refugees and
most of the observers of the situation. If during repatriation
any of the categories out of the four formed by the Bhutanese
government are not repatriated then international human rights
law providing guarantees to the refugees would be violated.
Even the Committee on the Right
of the Child in its Concluding Observations65 on Bhutans
first report expressed concern on the verification process and
the repatriation not being linked.
nevertheless concerned at the slow rate of this process and
the serious and negative impact this has on the rights of the
children residing in these camps, particularly given that
repatriation will begin only once all refugees have been
verified. In accordance with the best interest of children
residing in the camps, their right to nationality and
preservation of identity (Articles 3, 7&8 of the Convention)
and with a view to reaching a just and durable solution, the
Committee recommends that the State party:- make greater
efforts to expedite the verification process and consider the
possibility of repatriating individuals within a reasonable
tome following individual verifications; ensure that
repatriation and resettlement of returnees are carried out in
safety and dignity, to their place of origin or choice.
The Bhutanese government to
demonstrate its seriousness about repatriating the refugees
with the guarantee of the protection provided by international
human rights law, needs to begin preparing the ground to
receive these refugees. International law requires
repatriation of refugees to be voluntary with safety and
dignity. For repatriation to be voluntary the resettlement
programme should be stopped immediately. An alternative will
have to be found for those already resettled on the refugee
lands. Only then will the refugees be able to go back to their
properties. If alternative arrangements are not made there may
be a conflict between the resettlers and the refugees leading
to more human rights violations. Besides this the government
should be prepared to amend laws so that the refugees can get
ownership of their original land; to give land title deeds to
the returning refugees; guarantee the refugee children access
to schools; amend the laws to restore the nationality of the
refugees; prevent discrimination against them, if voluntary
repatriation with safety and dignity is to take place.
To facilitate voluntary
repatriation, the need for the refugees to get correct
information about the conditions in the country of origin has
been recognized in the UNHCR ExCom Conclusions66. This should
be facilitated by visits of refugee representatives to the
country without affecting their refugee status.
Besides restitution of rights,
international human rights law also recognizes the right to
compensation for victims of grave violations of human rights
and fundamental freedoms.
This has been stated in a UN
Commission on Human Rights resolution67. The Bhutanese
refugees were forcibly evicted from their homes in late 1990.
For the last ten years they have been living in refugee camps
or scattered in India or Nepal and in this condition they are
not able to enjoy the rights guaranteed under the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
Conclusions of the Fact-Finding and
and findings of the fact-finding
The RGOB has been resettling northern Bhutanese
in the lands of the Southern
Bhutanese refugees, as physically observed in
- Not all the northern
Bhutanese settled in the southern districts are landless as
RGOB has claimed.
Land has been given to army and police officers or their
especially land close to roads or with the larger houses.
- All the refugees
interviewed want to go back to the lands they were evicted
for regaining their
land and housing rights.
- The refugees from
Khudunabari camp are unhappy with the joint verification
that is under way as they do not see any links between
and final repatriation.
- The refugees would
like their representatives, the office of the UN High
Refugees (UNHCR) and the office of the UN High
Human Rights (UNHCHR) to be included as parties in
All negotiations and
particular the joint verification process.
- The fact-finding team
met people at various levels who indicated the urgent need
for the Government of
India to play an active role in resolving the Bhutanese
In the interest of
just and durable repatriation of Bhutanese refugees, in
full consonance with international human rights and
humanitarian law, it is imperative that RGOB stop resettling
northern Bhutanese on refugee lands under its obligations as
State of Origin.
The RGOB should
provide complete data and information on the resettlement it
has done so far in lands and houses previously belonging to
The RGOB should
invite the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing to
examine the countrys preparedness to repatriate the refugees
in accordance with international human rights standards.
process and the other stages leading to repatriation should
include representatives of the Bhutanese refugee community and
To show good
faith, the RGOB should speed up the verification process and
plan for repatriation in the near future; starting with those
verified in the Khudunabari camp, and then as verification of
each camp population is completed.
To show good
faith, the RGOB should take steps to remove the resettlers
from the refugee lands. The international community including
relevant UN agencies and donor governments should assist the
RGOB in this effort.
The UNHCR needs to
take a further proactive role in fulfilling its mandate to
work for a durable solution, particularly through repatriation
in conditions of security and dignity, and to reduce the risk
The UNHCHR needs
to take a further proactive role in fulfilling its mandate to
work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of
the refugees in the context of the verification and
talks must give due emphasis to the process that will be
necessary (including land claims, provision of civic services
and so forth) in restoring the land and housing rights of the
refugees upon their return to Bhutan.
begins, Bhutan should give access to both UNHCHR and UNHCR to
ensure that the economic, social and cultural rights of the
refugees on return are protected.
In addition to the
inherent role to be played by the governments of Bhutan and
Nepal, the Government of India must also play an active role
to facilitate the speedy return of the refugees to Bhutan.
officer should be appointed by the UNHCR to oversee the
repatriation process and the rehabilitation phase for this
vulnerable group, within the human rights framework.
The UN treaty
bodies should continue to monitor and follow-up on the
situation of the Bhutanese refugees.
Schedule of the Fact Finding Team From 23rd
September1st October 2001
Kakarvita in Nepal. Interviews with refugees.
Bongaigoan, Assam, India
Hatisar, Assam India- interviewed the local people and A, B, C
residents of Gaylegphug town, Bhutan. Visited Gaylegphug town
and Lodarai village to physically verify claims of the
Baghmara, Kodrajhar district of Assam in India. Interviewed
residents E&F of the village to get information on
resettlement in the neighbouring village of Lalai, Bhutan.
Viseted Lalai village in Samchi district of Bhutan to
physically verify claims of resettlement.
Chalsa, Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.
Visited Pinjuli village in Samchi district, Bhutan via Hope
Tea Estate in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal to physically
verify claims of resettlement. Visited Chengmari village in
Samchi district in Bhutan to physically verify claims of
resettlement. Interviewed villagers in the bordering Chengmari
village in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, India to get
information on resettlement and verify claims of the Bhutanese
Damak, Jhapa in Nepal. Debriefing and discussion with the
refugees from the camps; meeting with the UNHCR sub-office in
Damak, Jhapa in Nepal. Discussions on verification with
representatives of the refugees and refugee groups.
Kathmandu, Nepal. Meetings with Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Nepal; the UNHCR; Bhutanese Refugee Agency Group and refugee
NGOs and political parties.
Performa for Verification of Bhutanese Refugees
Complied by AHURA Bhutan on the
basis of the information given by the refugees who went
through the verification.
Full name of the
Age, date and
place of birth
[a] Camp and
Card/Registration no./Ration card number of the camp.
[c] Date of
admission to the camp
List of Family
Members [Details of each member attached]
Signature/Thumb impression of the head of Family/Individual
.Name of the
Age, date and
place of birth
Relation to the
Head of the family
Proof of relation
to head of family
[Relevant documents if any]
Date of admission
impression Signature/Thumb impression of
head of family
Details of the last address
before coming to camp
Documents at hand
[a] Thram number
[b] House number
[c] Tax Receipts
[d] Citizenship/ID Card
[f] Other documents
Furnish the following details
[a] Date of departure, from
[b] Reason for
If forcefully evicted, specify
[a] Date of eviction
[b] Authority by whom eviction
[c] Any proof of
[d] If appeal was
made to higher authority and if so whom? If not, why?
[e] Please furnish
any other details
The undersigned states that
this Performa has been completed voluntarily after having
fully understood the question listed on the form and that
all the information given above have been filled in
Signature/ Thumb impression of
head of family/Individual unit
Change in Names of Districts and
Since the emergence of refugee
crisis the Bhutanese government has been changing the names of
places in Bhutan, particularly in the south and make it sound
more like names in northern Bhutan.
Some of the name change in
southern Bhutan that has been verified so far:
Previous Names (before
1990) Changed Names (after 1990)
Southern Blocks (Sarbhang and
district) Jigme Choling
Southern Billages (Lalai blocks/Sarbhang
Godangyang (changed 1997/8)
Dumeng (changed 1997/8)
Rizong (changed 1997/80
Questions asked by the FFT at the interviews
with the refugees
details-family / place of residence in camp/ village etc in
Bhutan / where you born in Bhutan.
When and why did
you leave Bhutan?
Did you sign the
voluntary migration form / did you get compensation by the
government / did you sell your house to the govt?
Were you called a
citizen by the Bhutanese government?
If not. Why not?
Do you want to go
What are your
fears about going back? What kind of security you want form
the government to return?
Do you have any
relatives in your home village?
What kind of land
and house did you have? How much land did you have and what
did you grow, etc?
Is anyone else
occupying your land? If they have do you know who they are?
Can you remember
any landmarks near your home or village?
Do you have your
land records-or land tax receipt or other proof to show that
it is your land?
How many people
from your village have come to the camps?
Who is left in
your village now?
Do your relatives
have problems with the resettlers?
Do the resettlers
get any special facilities? Are these available to the locals?
Do you manage to
visit your village?
Did you or your
children go to the village schools? Did you need clearance
from the police to attend school?
In case you are
unable to return to your own land (of it not available) where
will you like to go?
List of people and organizations met by the FFT
Chief Coordinator of Association of Human Rights Activists,
Bhutan- (AHURA Bhutan).
a Bhutanese refugee and a journalist.
Tek Nath Rizal- a
prominent South Bhutanese dissident.
Michael J. Zwack
Head UNHCR Sub- office Jhapa, Nepal
Lutheran World Federation, Nepal
Father P.S Amal
Raj SJ Field Director, CARITAS, Nepal
Chairman, Bhutan Refugee Representative Repatriation Committee
Sguansaitgul- Deputy Representative, UNHCR, Nepal
Weil Protection Officer, UNHCR, Nepal
Narayana S. Thapa
Secretary, Minstry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal.
Acharya- Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal.
Programme Director, Save the Children UK, Nepal Office; member
of Bhutanese Refugee Agency Group (BRAG).
Lutheran World Federation, Nepal office, member of BRAG.
CIVICT, Nepal, member of BRAG.
President, Bhutan National Democratic Party.
Executive Director, Society for Human Rights and Education on
Bhutan ( SURE Bhutan), based in Nepal.
Deputy Secretary, Ministery of External Affairs, India.
Counsellor ( Press), Embassy of Royal Government of Bhutan,
Third secretary ( Press) Embassy of Royal Government of
Bhutan, New Delhi.
Bhutanese lawyer based New Delhi and practicing at the Delhi
Announcements in Bhutans weekly Kuensel
Kuensel, March 27, 1999
All the Shi- Sarps (Re-Settlers)
of phase one and two from different Dzongkhags should report
to their respective areas under Sarpang Dzongkhag within April
1999. Failure to report within the above dateline, this Dzongkhag Administration would consider the lands to have been
surrendered by the Shi- sarps ( Re-settlers) to the
Government. The concerned Dzongkhags are also requested to
kindly inform their respective Shi- sarps (Re-rettlers), to
report within the above dateline.
For cinvenience of the Dzongkhag
the list of Shi-sarps will be faxed to the individual
Dzongkhag within the week.
Kuensel, March 20, 1999.
Landless people from other Dzongkhag who
got land allotment in Tsirang Dzongkhag who got land allotment
in Tsirang Dzongkhag under resettlement programme have failed
to report despite repeated request of the Dzongkhag.
Therefore, Tsirang Dzogkhag administration, once again
requests them to report immediately as the cultivation season
is already set in. Non-compliance shall be viewed very
seriously and Dzongkhag administration shall not be held
responsible if any complication arises in future on the