You are here because you either heard about Bhutan or the so-called Bhutanese Refugees. With the recent resettlement program offered by countries led by the USA, the so-called Bhutanese Refugees have reached many foreign lands from where they have sped up their smearing campaign against Bhutan using falsified information and lies. We, the people of Bhutan, no doubt sympathize with the plight of these people, but the lies and false information spread by these people may come to be believed as the 'truth' unless we offer the other side of the story too to the world. This website was born to meet this need and as such, we provide here links to many well-researched articles written by reliable scholars and journalists. In the end, truth must be told, and it must be the truth that should prevail.
While we the peace-loving people of Bhutan sit comfortably at home in the Himalayas, oblivious to what is happening around the world, the so-called Bhutanese refugees resettled in countries around the world are actively spreading false information about Bhutan. They continue telling the world media that Bhutan is a despotic kingdom which has committed "ethnic cleansing" and is continuing to discriminate ethnic Nepalese. And they write that they were in Bhutan from the time of the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (1594 - 1651) - the founder of the modern Bhutanese State.
These claims of Nepalese being in Bhutan at the time of Zhabdrung are far from the truth. Except for a few Newari craftsmen who came to build statues in some monasteries, no big group of Nepalese came to Bhutan during the time of Zhabdrung. These Newari craftsmen often left after the projects were completed, or even if they did, they did not settle in the south where most of the recent immigrants settled. Even if we were to agree that these craftsmen did settle in the south, how would a few Newari craftsmen multiply into so many Nepalese (over 150,000) in a few decades?
According to historical records left by British Officials Charles Bell and John Claude White, the first time Nepalese were spotted in Bhutan was around 1904 and 1905. Those few groups of Nepalese who were initially brought into southern Bhutan legally as labourers were known as 'Tangyas'. The 'Tangyas' and even those who followed them were granted citizenship by an Act of the National Assembly in 1958. So these people are genuine citizens of Bhutan. But the problem arose because many illegal immigrants seeped into Bhutan through the porous international border until as late as the early 1980s.
Having just started modern economic development in 1961, Bhutan lacked the resources as well as manpower to effectively administer, control and manage immigration across the porous border in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. This was being taken full advantage of by the illegal immigrants. To take stock of this unchecked illegal iratmmigration going on in the south, the Citizenship Act of 1985 was passed. It granted Bhutanese citizenship to all Nepalese immigrants, resident in Bhutan before 31 December 1958 in keeping with the spirit of the resolution of 1958. Any immigrant who came after this date were to be considered illegal and sent back to their original place.
Following this, a census was carried out and when many illegal immigrants caught, some refugee-leaders-to-be made a big political agitation with their support base in the neighbouring Nepali dominated areas of Kalimpong and Darjeeling. And that is how the southern Bhutan problem of the 1990s started.
This coincided with the time when they had their own big plan too. According to a journalist, "Leaving Bhutan in droves was Stage I of the Plan. Coming back to Bhutan in force of numbers and on their terms was supposed to be Stage II.
Many of the refugees-to-be wholeheartedly supported this plan. The concept of a Greater Nepal featured prominently in the delusions of the Nepalese diaspora those days, encouraged no doubt by the successes of the Gorkhaland movement in Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Many of them relished the idea of Bhutan going the Sikkim way. Kanak M. Dixit, a prominent editor from Nepal even wrote a cover page article on Bhutan revealingly titled “House of Cards” that seemed to foresee imminent collapse in Bhutan (Kanak Mani Dixit: House of cards: fearing for Bhutan. Himal Vol.7 No 4, July/August 1994.). Such sentiments had to be carefully hidden however, and not surprisingly were heatedly denounced as some Bhutan Government's bogey.
Despite the fact that their leaders had a big role to play in leading Nepalese out from Bhutan to Nepal for their 'big plan', the refugees keep claiming that they were forcefully evicted by the Bhutanese military. In this age of information, such lies can do great harm to Bhutan if we do not take measures to tell our side of the stories too. There is a risk that even our own people (especially the younger generation) would be misinformed.
Every country has its own immigration laws. Bhutan was only trying to implement its immigration laws. All countries deport illegal immigrants. Bhutan only wanted the illegal immigrants to go back to where they came from. In that respect, Bhutan did not do anything wrong. The need for Security Clearance also exists even in developed countries for the security of the country.
People are naturally attracted to peaceful places with economic opportunities. This is the reason why many people from poor and chaotic countries are trying to go to the US. In South Asia, without doubt, Bhutan is the best country to live in. So, it is only natural that it will attract illegal immigrants from the crowded surrounding areas. And it indeed did. And if we are not careful, more illegal immigrants will come in the future too.
To make the matter worse, Bhutan's population is too small to absorb any large number of immigrants. We have the real risk of becoming a minority in our own land. Remember that there are around 30 million Nepalese in Nepal and over 10 million ethnic Nepalese settled in Indian states bordering Bhutan. Compare this with just around 0.6 million of us in Bhutan. We are like just a drop in the ocean. For our culture's continuity and country's future survival, we have to understand this fact and never take things for granted. This does not mean that we have to discriminate against Bhutanese of Nepalese origin. Not at all. We have to respect them and treat them like you would treat any other Bhutanese (This is happening now as any visitor to Bhutan would testify), but we just have to be aware of our country's problems from a global perspective whether it is to find solutions to existing problems or to forge ahead with the vision of Gross National Happiness.
Please enjoy browsing through the articles and papers in the website from the menu on the right pane of this website.
Don't get me wrong.
I am a half breed. My parents come from north and south and meet in west. As a kid, it has always made me curious why those people left? who i really am?
and trust me, i have done too many studies over this matter, because, i was curious why they left?
as i have seen in forums and blogs, i just can't point out which one side is bad. But i do believe that what the refugees, did, were bad. Why should one go against the dress code? why should one murder one's own relatives? why should one rape their own people?
as i read, i come to know that not everybody was Bhutanese, didn't have that written document saying that they were in the nation in 50s? so that makes them, a bunch of people who came and stayed in our country for around say, 40 years. So after 40 years, they expect that the nation stoop at them?
i have talked this to many people, and am not bluffing, but the youths of during those days, were really harassed by both the parties, both anti nationals and armies. i can understand why armies did that, they had to maintain peace, so one can't have written on his forehead that he is not against the government. but i am still curious why those anti-nationals butchered their own kind?
and today, they get to get settled in third countries, and yet they don't want to? i mean, where is their heads still? still in their assholes? as far as i read the blogs, we are facing too much of criticisms because of them. and if they really had the sense of belonging to the nation, then why did all of them run away? in a mass? and that too, to nepal? they always thought that they were from nepal, so that affection took them to nepal. the sense of belongingness was not towards bhutan, but towards nepal.
and i read in few blogs too, that lhotsampas are being harassed in bhutan. to all those people, i say, harass my ass! i am half breed, i have a lhotsampa surname, i crack jokes regarding the culture differences, and i am not harassed here in bhutan. in fact, i am really happy here. i got scholarship from bhutan, if there was really discrimintaion, i won't have been gone for the scholarship. i even posted a topic in forum, regarding the education system. i see blogs now and then, and it just strikes me, they were all bunch of retards, they wanted to have things their way, that is why, they left. we were in southern belts too, we didn't leave:
and on that note, i talked with my grand father, he said, he had to hide in maize field for weeks, because he was scared that, people would kill him. and his crime for the anti nationals were, he didn't want to burn the national dress. a
and today, you still want to come back?
to do what? we have moved on, and moved on very far. forget about other regions of bhutan, i think they won't be welcomed by their own relatives itself. bunch of liars!
i say that, because i had few frens from nepal, and they told me regarding the conditions of refugees. even nepal people don't want them there. better pack your shits and go to western world, for i don't know what other lhotsamps would say, but i, one among the lhotsamps, i say, you are not welcome here in my home. you will be treated as intruder if you come. and i hope that, other lhotsamps share the same view.
Title: Challenge of Gorkhaland
Written by SUNANDA K DATTA-RAY, Pioneer, 12 August 2011
The possibility of new Nepalese-majority States doesn’t concern West Bengal alone. It concerns India from Assam to Uttarakhand.
Bounded by Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and China, Gorkhaland will be India’s second Nepalese-majority State. If migration across the 500-mile open border — which the 1950 India-Nepal Treaty permits and even encourages — continues, it may not be the last. The prospect explains Rajiv Gandhi’s refusal in 1986 to countenance citizenship for post-1950 immigrants.
Even Darjeeling’s sitting MP tempers pleasure over the recent tripartite agreement with circumspection. “The challenge is to understand: ‘what hereafter’ and to address that,” Mr Jaswant Singh warns. Since Ms Mamata Banerjee denies that the tripartite agreement will lead to Statehood, she may not realise there is a challenge to understand and address.
It may soon become mandatory to speak only of ‘Gorkha’, so let me be ethnically accurate rather than politically correct while it is still possible and say that the challenge is of appreciating Nepalese history and ethnography and its impact on India all along the Himalayas, not just in West Bengal. Some Nepalese readers have taken umbrage at my article “Step towards Gorkhaland” published in these columns on July 29. They probably feel the economic implications of migration are demeaning. Hence they insist they didn’t come from anywhere but have always been Indian.
Always is a big word and a huge concept. How long does one have to live in a terrain to be regarded as indigenous, a reader asked. The answer can’t be measured in years or even generations. The Burdwan zamindari family have lived in Bengal for 500 years and don’t speak a word of Punjabi. But apart from exceptional love matches, all their spouses come from Punjab. In the US, Ralph Ellison, the Black American author of Invisible Man, nursed no memory, individual or folk, of his African forebears. His consciousness had been shaped in the crucible of the American Dream.
As the Rastafarian movement or the Black American girl flirting with Nigerian attire in A Raisin in the Sun demonstrated, belonging is a state of mind. I have seen German-origin Soviet families squatting for days on airport floors with their boxes and bedding like refugees at Sealdah station waiting for flights to “return” to a Germany some had never seen. I also know ethnic Germans who despite Germanic names and appearance, regard themselves and are regarded by others as entirely Russian.
With passports of convenience readily available, legal citizenship is only a small part of identity. Nor is identity constricted by boundaries which is why many Nagas seek union with their fellow tribesmen in Myanmar. Friends of Dorjee Khandu, the late Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, say he was loyally Indian to the core but completely Tibetan in lifestyle. A Malaysian bumiputera (son of the soil) is born Malay and Muslim, but Malayali settlers in dhoti and angavastram are also accorded bumiputera status. The Burdwans suggest that choice takes precedence over history and ethnicity.
Readers who deny that the British brought in Nepalese labour are right only to the extent that migration existed before Sikkim ceded Darjeeling to the East India Company. But it’s fanciful to claim (as one reader did) that the Nepalese came in the 1600s. Many of Darjeeling’s 1,900 inhabitants in 1850 (2,200 in 1869) were the original Lepchas and Bhutiyas.
Leo Rose, Lopita Nath and other scholars regard the Treaty of Sugauli and establishment of recruitment centres at Ghoom and Gorakhpur as the start. The 1950 Treaty additionally encouraged immigration. The Nepalese share of Darjeeling’s population rose from 54 per cent in 1901 to 58.4 per cent in 1971. Reportedly, it increased by 700 per cent during 1951-2001.
A vigorous community’s eastward push reduced Lepchas and Bhutiyas to minorities in their own homeland. Ethnic strife erupted throughout the North-East but especially in Meghalaya. Darjeeling suffered grievously. The most dramatic impact was in Sikkim which had only 2,500 Lepchas, 1,500 Bhutiyas and 1,000 Tsongs in 1873. A century later, the Nepalese, then three-quarters of the population, played a decisive part in changing the status of a Tibetan-Buddhist kingdom with which they could not relate. A Sikkim-Nepalese politician even demanded a Nepalese Hindu king to balance the Bhutiya Buddhist Chogyal! Bhutan began to be wary of non-Drukpa settlers after the Sikkim agitation in which many Darjeeling Nepalese participated. There were also allegations of Darjeeling Nepalese agitators in Bhutan.
Bhutan began recruiting Nepalese labourers (tangyas) in 1900, allowing them to stay on as tenant farmers with Bhutanese nationality. This changed when Bhutan’s planned growth, empty land and porous borders attracted waves of illegal migrants. The evictions, refugee camps in Nepal, militant organisations, terrorist activity and assisted migration to North America and Europe are another story.
Just as Drukpa officials felt absorption would be easier if the Nepalese were called Southern Bhutanese or Lhotshampas, Subhas Ghising dubbed them Gorkha. Prem Poddar claims in Gorkhas Imagined that “the word ‘Gorkha’ (or the neologism ‘Gorkhaness’) as a self-descriptive term ... has gained currency as a marker of difference for Nepalis living in India … While this counters the irredentism of a Greater Nepal thesis, it cannot completely exorcise the spectres or temptations of an ethnic absolutism for diasporic subjects.” Ghising’s overtures to Nepal’s King Birendra and Prince Gyanendra and periodic unpublicised trips to Nepal may have aggravated those fears. It was recalled then that the All-India Gurkha League’s founding constitution referred to Nepal as the “motherland”.
Several readers argue that Bengalis are equally foreign because they are really Bangladeshis. True, many people in Calcutta and West Bengal have roots in East Bengal (there was no Bangladesh then) just as many Tamils in Chennai come from villages in Tanjore and other districts. The metropole always attracts manpower, and internal migration in undivided Bengal followed this pattern. The movement since 1947 falls into two categories. The first is a staggered and delayed (because of political factors including the 1950 Nehru-Liaquat Ali Pact) counterpart of the exchange of population that happened all at once in Punjab. The second is the illegal influx of Muslims from East Pakistan and later Bangladesh, often abetted by elements in West Bengal. Undeniably, they should be tracked down and deported but neither group can be compared to the millions of Nepalese who have over the decades migrated to and made India their home.
The possibility of new Nepalese-majority States doesn’t concern West Bengal alone. It concerns India from Assam to Uttarakhand. The situation is without global parallel.
(Courtesy: Sudheer Sharma)
This is the story of how Sikkim lost its independence. Please read on.
On the northern corner of West Bengal state of India , there is a hill station-- Kalimpong, which once hosted celebrities from all over the world. The hill town, where most of the settlers are of Nepali origin, no longer retains its old charm. But until a few weeks ago the last prime minister of a country—that has lost its independence—used to live here. Kazi Lhendup Dorji, who died on 28 July this year at the ripe old age of 103, had played a pivotal role in the merger of Sikkim into India .
Dorji is seen as a ‘traitor’ in the contemporary history. He lived, and died, with the same ignominy. “Everybody accuses me of selling the country. Even if it is true, should I alone be blamed?” he asked me, when I met him in Kalimpong in November 1996. But the allegation of ‘betrayal’ towards one’s own motherland was so powerful that Dorji could no more lead an active political life. He spent his solitary life at the ‘Chakung House’ in Kalimpong for several decades. Few people chose to remember Kazi when he passed away nor took pain to recall his life and times.
So much so that the Kazi was ignored even by Delhi . “I went out of my way to ensure the merger of Sikkim into India but after the work was done, the Indians just ignored me,” Kazi told me during an interview for Jana Astha weekly, nearly 11 years ago. “Earlier, I used to be given a ‘Red Carpet’ welcome. Now I have to wait for weeks even to meet second grade leaders.”
When I visited Kalimpong for the second time in 2000, Lhendup’s anger towards Delhi had reached new heights. At one time, he was received warmly by Indian leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru and Mrs Indira Gandhi. But later he became a political actor whose utility had been finished and thrown away into the dustbin.
The origin of crisis
After India got independence in 1947, the Sikkim State Congress, which was established as per the advice of Nehru, launched anti-King movement. Sikkim managed to overcome the crisis then but after Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister of India, the tiny Himalayan kingdom found itself in a crisis from which it could never escape. The anti-King movement, launched by the Sikkim National Congress (SNC) under the leadership of Lhendup Dorji in 1973, led to the demise of a sovereign nation.
India openly supported the movement against King (Chogyal) Palden Thondup Namgyal. The then ADC to the King, Captain Sonam Yongda, claimed that soldiers of Indian Army in civil dress used to take part in the protests. Some of the protesters were brought from Darjeeling and the surrounding areas. The number of Sikkimese who took part in the protest was quite small. But that was enough.
Lhendup’s protest movement depended mainly on Indian financial assistance. The money was made available through Intelligence Bureau (IB). “The people from IB used to visit me twice or thrice a year. An IB agent, Tejpal Sen, used to handover money to me personally,” Dorji had told me in a recorded interview.
In fact, the main actor behind the “ Mission Sikkim ” was India ’s external intelligence agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing). Set up in 1968, RAW was able to disintegrate Pakistan (and form Bangladesh ) within three years. The annexation of Sikkim was their other ‘historic’ success. The strategists of RAW didn’t want to repeat a Bhutan in Sikkim . Bhutan managed to acquire the membership of the United Nations in 1968. So, they launched a movement under the leadership of Lhendup, which is described at great length by Ashok Raina in his book Inside
RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service.
Raina writes that New Delhi had taken the decision to annex Sikkim in 1971, and that the RAW used the next two years to create the right conditions within Sikkim to make that happen. The key here was to use the predominantly-Hindu Sikkimese of Nepali origin who complained of discrimination from the Buddhist king and the elite to rise up. “What we felt then was that the Chogyal was unjust to us,” said CD Rai, editor of Gangtok Times and ex-minister. “We thought it may be better to be Indian than to be oppressed by the king.”
Lhendup—who belonged to the Kazi family—had a historic enmity with Sikkim ’s ruling Chogyals. He said he wanted to pressurise the King through public protests but lamented that the King never came forward for reconciliation.
Under pressure from Delhi , the Sikkimese King was forced to hold tripartite talks with SNC and India . The talks not only curtailed royal powers, it also turned Sikkim into an Indian ‘protectorate.’ In the elections held in 1974, Lhendup’s SNC got overwhelming majority in the parliament. The government and the king saw each other as enemies. Ultimately, the cabinet meeting, on 27th March 1975 , decided to abolish monarchy. The Sikkimese parliament endorsed it and decided to hold a referendum on the future of monarchy. Four days later, the outcome of the poll in 57 stations across the country was: ‘Abolition of the monarchy.’
In an interview, then Agriculture Minister of Sikkim KC Pradhan recalled that the referendum was nothing but a charade. “Indian soldiers rigged the polls by pointing rifles at the hapless voters,” he said. Immediately after the referendum, Kazi Lhendup moved a motion in the parliament proposing that Sikkim be annexed to India . The 32-member parliament, which had 31 members from Lhendup’s SNC—passed the motion without a blink. Needless to say that the entire episode was being orchestrated by India . The then Indian envoy to Sikkim (known as ‘political officer’) BS Das wrote in his book The Sikkim Saga, Sikkim ’s merger was necessary for Indian national interest. And we worked to that end. Maybe if the Chogyal had been smarter, and played his cards better, it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did.”
But Chogyal didn’t play his cards well. When Sikkim was undergoing turmoil, the Chogyal visited Kathmandu in 1974 to attend the coronation ceremony of King Birendra. According to insiders, King Birendra, Chinese deputy premier Chen Li Yan and Pakistan ’s envoy advised Chogyal not to return to Sikkim . “They narrated a ‘master plan’ to save Sikkim from Indian hands but the King didn’t accept,” said Captain Yongda. “It was because the King couldn’t think even in his dreams that India could use force to annex Sikkim .”
A ‘double game’
In fact, India was playing a ‘double game.’ On one hand, it was supporting Lhendup in whatever way possible against the King. On the other hand, it was assuring the king that monarchy would survive in Sikkim . The Chogyal was also an honorary Major General of the Indian Army. He never thought that his ‘own army’ would act against him. It was only an illusion.
The Chogyal of Sikkim was in his palace on the morning of 6 April 1975 when the roar of army trucks climbing the steep streets of Gangtok brought him running to the window. There were Indian soldiers everywhere, they had surrounded the palace, and short rapid bursts of machine gun fire could be heard. Basanta Kumar Chhetri, a 19-year-old guard at the palace’s main gate, was struck by a bullet and killed—the first casualty of the takeover. The 5,000-strong Indian force didn’t take more than 30 minutes to subdue the palace guards who numbered only 243. By 12:45 pm it was all over, Sikkim ceased to exist as an independent kingdom.
The Chogyal also lost the second opportunity. The Sikkim Guards had the capacity to stop the Indian Army for two hours. If the Chogyal had informed Beijing and Islamabad about the Indian invasion from the transmitter set up at his palace, both the countries had assured him—during the Kathmandu meeting—that they would instruct their security forces to open fire along the borders with India . Chinese army could even travel to Gangtok to rescue the Chogyal.
Captured palace guards, hands raised high, were packed into trucks and taken away, singing: “Dela sil, li gi, gang changka chibso” (May my country keep blooming like a flower). But by then, the Indian tri-colour had replaced the Sikkimese flag at the palace where the 12th king of the Namgyal dynasty was held prisoner. “The Chogyal was a great believer in India . He had huge respect for Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Not in his wildest dreams did he think India would ever gobble up his kingdom,” recalls Captain Sonam Yongda, the Chogyal’s aide-de-camp. Nehru himself had told journalist Kuldip Nayar in 1960: “Taking a small country like Sikkim by force would be like shooting a fly with a rifle.” Ironically it was Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi who cited “national interest” to make Sikkim the 22nd state of the Indian union.
During a meeting, former Chief Minister of Sikkim BB Gurung told me that the King and Lhendup were just fighting a proxy war. “The real battle was between an American and a Belgian lady.” If that was true, the real victor was the third lady—Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Two Foreign Ladies
Chogyal Palden met the 24-year-old New Yorker, Hope Cook, in Darjeeling in 1963 and married her. For Cook, this was a dream come true: to become the queen of an independent kingdom in Shangri-la. She started taking the message of Sikkimese independence to the youth, and the allegations started flying thick and fast that she was a CIA agent. These were the coldest years of the Cold War, and there was a tendency in India to see a “foreign hand” behind everything so it was not unusual for the American queen to be labelled a CIA agent. However, as Hope Cook’s relations with Delhi deteriorated, so did her marriage with the Chogyal. In 1973, she took her two children and went back to New York . She hasn’t returned to Sikkim since.
Then there was Elisa-Maria, daughter of a Belgian father and German mother who left her Scottish husband in Burma and married Kazi Lhendup Dorji in Delhi in 1957. The two couldn’t have been more different. Elisa-Maria wanted to be Sikkim ’s First Lady, but Hope Cook stood in the way. “She didn’t just want to be the wife of an Indian chief minister; she wanted to be the wife of the prime minister of an independent Sikkim .” With that kind of an ambition, it was not surprising that with annexation, neither Hope Cook nor Elisa-Maria got what they wanted.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi Indira Gandhi was going from strength to strength, and India was flexing its muscles. The 1971 Bangladesh war and the atomic test in 1974 gave Delhi the confidence to take care of Sikkim once and for all. Indira Gandhi was concerned that Sikkim may show independent tendencies and become a UN member like Bhutan did in 1971, and she also didn’t take kindly to the three Himalayan kingdoms, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal, getting too cosy with each other.
When the Indian troops moved in there was general jubilation on the streets of Gangtok. It was in fact in faraway Kathmandu that there were reverberations. Beijing expressed grave concern. But in the absence of popular protests against the Indian move, there was only muted reaction at the United Nations in New York . It was only later that there were contrary opinions within India —(Former Indian Prime Minister) Morarji Desai said in 1978 that the merger was a mistake. Even Sikkimese political leaders who fought for the merger said it was a blunder and worked to roll it back. But by then, it was already too late.
Lhendup Dorji became the first chief minister of the Indian state of Sikkim and retained the post until 1979. The Indian government conferred on him ‘Padma Bhusan’ in 2002 and he was also awarded the ‘Sikkim Ratna’ by the state government in 2004.
Despite such “rewards,” Lhendup and his wife Elisa spent their last years in Kalimpong repenting their past deeds. After the death of his wife in 1990, Lhendup was forced to lead a solitary life. He neither had any children nor relatives to take care of him. He cut himself off from his own people to avoid their wrath and hatred.
In the elections held in 1979, Lhendup’s SNC failed to bag even a single seat in the Sikkim ’s legislature. This effectively brought to an end to his political career. At one time, when he had gone to file his nomination, his name was missing from the electoral roll. In his resolve to dethrone the Chogyal dynasty that had 400-year-old history in Sikkim , Lhendup ended up delivering his motherland into the lap of India . In return, all he got was a life haunted from the shadow of the past and an ignominious death.
(This writing was originally posted at www.nepalnews.com)
Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa: 1st democratic CM of Sikkim
Posted on May 11, 2011 by iSikkim
By Rajen Upadhyaya
The political upheavals of 1940s precipitated into protest movement of 1973 that finally led to the merger of Sikkim into India in 1975. 1919 up to 1947 is referred as Gandhian era in the Modern Indian History. Similarly, the period between 1945 up to 1975 can be regarded as Kazian era in the Democratic History of Sikkim. It was during this period that the late L.D. Kazi single handedly guided the democratic movement of Sikkim till its merger.
Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa was born at Pakyong, East Sikkim in the ancient and noble Khangsarpa family in 1904. As a pious Buddhist he entered the Rumtek monastery at the age of 6 years. His uncle Tshurfuk Lama Rabden Dorjee was the then Head Lama of the famous Rumtek Monastry and young Lhendup became his disciple.
Sidkeyong Namgyal, the then Maharaja of Sikkim, while once on a visit to the Rumtek liked the young monk Lhendup and took him to Gangtok. The Maharaja put him in a Tibetan School. At the age of 16 Kazi Lhendup returned to Rumtek monastery and underwent strict training of Lamaism for another two years. Thereafter he succeeded as the Head Lama of Rumtek Monastery and its estates on the retirement of Lama Ugen Tenzing. Kazi Lhendup remained as Head Lama at Rumtek monastery for 8 years, and then left the monastery to work with his brother Kazi Phag Tshering, who founded the Young Mens’ Buddhist Association at Darjeeling. The two Kazi brothers founded a large number of schools in West Sikkim and were instrumental in bringing about a number of social and other reforms.
The 40’s of the 20th century witnessed a heralding change world wide. A person with the feeling of service to mankind, Kazi Lhendup founded a Political Organization known as Rajya Praja Mandal at his native place at Chakhung in West Sikkim. In 1947 the amalgamation of the three petty political organizations of Sikkim Rajya Praja Mandal, Rajya Praja Sammelan and Praja Sudhar Samaj took place. On 7th December 1947 they held a joint meeting at today’s Palzor Stadium (then Polo Ground) and decided to form a compact body to combat lawless feudalism. The huge gathering of 7th December 1947 led to the birth of first ever political Party of Sikkim known as Sikkim State Congress. Tashi Tshering also popularly known as Tashi Babu of Gangtok was the elected President of Sikkim State Congress.
In 1953, Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa (people of his native place fondly called him Kancha Kazi) became the President of Sikkim State Congress and held that post till 1958. During his President ship he led a delegation to Delhi in 1954 to call on the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Sikkimese had been fighting for political and economic reforms and these were discussed by the delegation with Pandit Nehru, who was deeply impressed by the sincerity of Kazi Lhendup Dorjee. The Indian Prime Minister promised to give assistance for the progress and economic welfare of the Sikkimese populace and assured Government of India’s support towards political reform in Sikkim.
After the foundation of the Sikkim State Congress (which was a pro-peasant party) the pro feudalists founded another political party in 1948 to curb the rising tide of democratic ideas. The new political party was known as Sikkim National Party and it was basically patronized by the palace. The Sikkim State Congress had branded this party as the “party of palace”.
Kazi Lhendup Dorjee realized the futility of the communal approach in the political scenario of Sikkim. Welfare of the people being close to his heart, he decided to form another party, called the Sikkim National Congress in 1960. His main approach was to form a non-communal party which could give the Sikkimese peace, prosperity and progress. Contesting on this platform his party secured 8 seats out of 18 in the third General Elections of Sikkim in 1963. Kazi Lhendup Dorjee formed the opposition in the Sikkim Council and tried to bring about a feeling of communal harmony.
In the General Election of 1970, Kazi Lhendup Dorjee was appointed as an Executive Councillor and was allotted the portfolio of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Transport Authority. As Sikkim was an agricultural country, Kazi tried to bring reforms to reform the economic conditions of the farmers. He was however, removed from the Executive Councillor in 1972.
In personal life, Late Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa had his second wife from Belgium. Her name was Kazini Eliza Maria (also known as Kazini Sahiba of Chakhung) who played a vital role in guiding and assisting Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa in his day to day affairs. She was an influential woman who used to do most of the paper works of the party of Kazi from their cozy bungalow at Kalimpong.
The General Election of 1973, the last general election of independent Sikkim, based on the notorious parity formulae, did not satisfy the Sikkim National Congress. This led to an agitation in April 1973 which ultimately led to the merger of two influential political parties of Sikkim the Janata Congress and Sikkim National Congress giving birth to Sikkim Congress.
In the elections of 1974, Sikkim Congress secured 31 out of 32 seats in the Sikkim Assembly and formed its government based on principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Kazi became the first elected Chief Minister. The Sikkim Congress delegates used to attend the annual session of the Indian National Congress. After the merger of Sikkim in India in 1975, the political party of Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa was also merged with the Indian National Congress at Kamagatamaru Nagar in Chandigarh.
Personally Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa and Kazini Eliza Maria lost everything — perhaps not really everything — because the people of Sikkim still remember him with fondness. The father of democracy in Sikkim was not even allowed to enter Sikkim when he lost election in 1979. The memorable Kazi expired on July 29, 2007.
Kazi did not live for personal gains. He lived for the people of Sikkim. “By merging Sikkim with India, Kazi Lendhup Dorji Khansarpa of Chakung brought new prosperity to the people of Sikkim, restored their rights and gave India a jewel in the crown studded with the silvery Kanchenjunga”. (M. K Dhar, If not for Him Sikkim would not be a part of India)
Many of the refugees-to-be wholeheartedly supported this plan. The concept of a Greater Nepal featured prominently in the delusions of the Nepalese diaspora those days, encouraged no doubt by the successes of the Gorkhaland movement in Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Many of them relished the idea of Bhutan going the Sikkim way. Kanak M. Dixit, a prominent editor from Nepal even wrote a cover page article on Bhutan revealingly titled “House of Cards” that seemed to foresee imminent collapse in Bhutan (Kanak Mani Dixit: House of cards: fearing for Bhutan. Himal Vol.7 No 4, July/August 1994.). Such sentiments had to be carefully hidden however and not surprisingly were heatedly denounced as some RGOB bogey."
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Title: Abraham Abraham and the Refugee Refugees
Published Date: 2007/8/31 3:27:16
By : bhutantimes.com Editorial
The tragedy of the so-called Bhutanese refugee crisis seems to be repeating itself. Those who have failed to understand the true nature of the tragedy now have another chance. Hopefully they won’t miss the irony either. Against a tide of international criticism in the 1990s the government of Bhutan maintained that the mass exodus of Nepalese from southern Bhutan was not a result of government or military pressure on citizens, but was a result of the refugees’ own secret little plan. Leaving Bhutan in droves was Stage I of the Plan. Coming back to Bhutan in force of numbers and on their terms was supposed to be Stage II.
Many of the refugees-to-be wholeheartedly supported this plan. The concept of a Greater Nepal featured prominently in the delusions of the Nepalese diaspora those days, encouraged no doubt by the successes of the Gorkhaland movement in Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Many of them relished the idea of Bhutan going the Sikkim way. Kanak M. Dixit, a prominent editor from Nepal even wrote a cover page article on Bhutan revealingly titled “House of Cards” that seemed to foresee imminent collapse in Bhutan (Kanak Mani Dixit: House of cards: fearing for Bhutan. Himal Vol.7 No 4, July/August 1994.). Such sentiments had to be carefully hidden however and not surprisingly were heatedly denounced as some RGOB bogey.
Not all refugees were so excited by this delusion and many had to be coerced through threats and intimidation to cooperate. There was a militant wing among the refugees that offered to shorten by 6 inches anybody who did not cooperate. Translated bluntly, this was an offer of a beheading. Since the refugees were shrewdly trying to craft a picture of a persecuted minority, this fact too had to be denied. The refugee leaders cleverly deflected the blame for the exodus on a ‘despotic kingdom’ dabbling in the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of a ‘peaceful minority’. Now which self-respecting headline reader could resist buzzwords as catchy as these?
Having successfully created the critical mass of refugees and successfully set up their camps in Nepal (which incidentally was made possible only after a Long March and a standoff with the Nepalese police over the Mechi bridge), the plan began to stumble. The refugee leaders had never reckoned with Bhutanese bureaucratic obduracy and for 16 years Stage II has been in limbo. They’ve had to struggle to keep people focused on why they left Bhutan and what the next step was. Sadly for them, international sympathy for their humanitarian situation did not translate into international belief that the refugees were all Bhutanese citizens.
Finding lessons for Bhutan from the happenings in India and Nepal has been a habit among the Nepalese leaders in Bhutan. Their agitations in Bhutan in 1952 and 1990 following the successes of the uprisings against the British in India and against the monarchy in Nepal respectively bear this out. So it was no surprise that in the successes of the Maoists of Nepal the refugee leaders found inspiration and they promptly created their very own Maoist group. Unfortunately in their excitement they forgot about the US’ penchant for overreacting to anything communist or even the colour red. Not surprisingly the US became unduly alarmed by this and decided enough was enough and offered to clear the camps with a sweeping offer of resettlement in the USA.* Most of the refugees jumped at the offer as they saw it for what it was – an opportunity of a life time.
In this happy solution however the refugee leaders have found despair. Who will they lead is the main question. What will become of them as leaders? These hard questions have triggered the return of their hidden true nature and despite the risk of losing their hard earned image of peaceful refugees, they have once again resumed their old role of ‘guiding’ the people. According to them, the US offer is simply no good. No doubt being six inches shorter has something to do with it. Reports from Nepal describe a rapidly worsening situation as the Bhutan Communist Party and the Bhutan Tigers’ Front intensified their ‘campaign’ against third-country resettlement.
Such is the level of fear and intimidation that has gripped the refugee camps that dozens of families have fled the camps for their safety. Many refugees now find safety in the surrounding villages.
If there is one thing that is worse than becoming a refugee, it is for a refugee to have to seek refuge FROM a refugee camp. Abraham Abraham, the Country Representative of the UNHCR camps in Nepal must answer up to this incredible failure.
And it is high time that he and the UNHCR organization acknowledge the sinister role played by the refugee leaders in the creation of the refugee tragedy.
*This is but one possible explanation for the generous US offer.
The link to the original article can be found here: https://www.bhutantimes.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=113
For instance, in May 1994, 269 persons from Dorokha Dungkhag came to Samtse and insisted on emigrating to Nepal despite every effort by all of us in the Dzongkhag Headquarters to persuade them to withdraw their applications, he said. Even after reading to them a Kasho sent by His Majesty the King appealing to them not to leave and exempting all rural taxes for three years to all those who withdrew their applications, only 32 persons accepted His Majesty’s Kasho and stayed back. All the others left for Nepal. Journalists and NGO members who have met these people and interviewed other emigrants and their neighbours know whether they were forced to leave or left of their own free will."
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Title: Outside agencies providing assistance to the ngolops should be given clearinformation and true facts about the ngolops
Excerpted from: TRANSLATION OF THE PROCEEDINGS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE 73RD SESSION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF BHUTAN HELD
FROM10TH AUGUST TO 2ND SEPTEMBER, 1995.
The people’s representatives of Lhuntsi Dzongkhag and the representative of Khibisa,Lajab and Tshangkha gewogs in Dagana Dzongkhag pointed out that in the past fewyears people from the southern Dzongkhags had emigrated and left the country despiterepeated appeals made by the government not to leave. These people even ignored thepersonal appeals made to them by His Majesty the King through his Kashos and whenhe visited the southern Dzongkhags to meet the emigrants and asked them not to leavethe country. They even threatened local authorities and other villagers who tried todiscourage them from emigrating and left for Nepal after taking Kidu Soilra.
Lhotshampa civil servants who have stolen government funds also absconded to Nepalwhile other Lhotshampas had left after terrorising and robbing the villagers. After going to Nepal, these people have registered themselves as refugees by claiming to have beenforcefully evicted and making other false allegations against the Royal Government.
The people’s representatives said that they are shocked that these people have beengiven refugee status by international organizations and that their cause is beingsupported by the Nepalese government. If they had been forcefully evicted they wouldhave stayed across the border in India. Why go all the way to Nepal? Many of thesepeople who are registered in the refugee camps in Nepal have been sneaking back intothe country to carry out terrorist acts such as murder, rape, armed robbery anddestruction of development facilities. Such terrorist acts by the ngolops have been goingon for several years now. The people’s representatives asked the government to clearlyinform all the foreign agencies providing assistance to the ngolops about the seriouscrimes being constantly committed by these people. They said that the Nepalesegovernment and international organisations like the UNHCR should reconsider theirposition on this issue on the basis of the true facts.
The Home Minister acknowledged that there was much substance to the points raised bythe people’s representatives of Lhuntsi and Dagana Dzongkhags. Despite all the effortsmade by the government to dissuade them, most of the Lhotshampas who had applied toemigrate had left the country for Nepal. Many of these people have since been comingback to carry out terrorist raids inside Bhutan, he said. Giving a summary of the terroristactivities perpetrated uptil August, 1995, the Home Minister informed the NationalAssembly that the ngolops had committed 68 confirmed murders and 960 cases ofdacoity and armed robbery. They had burnt down or destroyed 66 private houses,hijacked 62 vehicles and destroyed another 36. They had also physically attacked andinjured 664 Bhutanese nationals and carried out 65 ambushes and attacks on the securityforces and government officials. The Home Minister also informed the members that112 terrorists had been apprehended and handed over to the police by the villagevolunteers in the southern Dzongkhags.
The Home Minister said that the terrorists and ngolops are persons who have stolengovernment funds, have incurred large loans and debts or were involved in criminalactivities while they were in Bhutan. The reason why all those who leave Bhutan gostraight to Nepal is because the ngolop leaders have been telling them to come to therefugee camps where they will receive free food and housing, free education for theirchildren, free health facilities and even free kerosene oil and soap, he said. They are alsoprovided free transport from Bhutan to the camps in eastern Nepal. All it takes for them to be accepted in the camps in Jhapa, is to be of Nepalese origin and to declare they areBhutanese refugees. As a result of this, many unemployed and destitute ethnicNepalese from Nepal and the nearby areas have congregated in the camps in easternNepal claiming to be Bhutanese refugees. Among this group of people claiming to beBhutanese refugees are many labourers brought from Nepal and the neighbouring areasby the Nepalese Baidars to work in Bhutan on development projects and who have sincereturned. The Home Minister agreed that it is indeed very important to apprise alloutside agencies helping the ngolops about these facts.
The Home Minister informed the members that several non-governmental organisations,some UN agencies and a few countries are involved in giving assistance to the people inthe refugee camps in eastern Nepal. Some of them are extending assistance out ofgenuine humanitarian concern while some are doing so to proselytise their own faith,and some others for political reasons. All of them are now aware that there are people inthe refugee camps in Nepal who are not really Bhutanese, he said. The Nepalesegovernment is also aware of this fact. However, the Nepalese government and theconcerned organisations continue to extend their support because they find it difficult towithdraw after being involved in establishing and running the camps over the last fouryears. The Home Minister assured the people’s representatives that the Royal Government has been making every effort to keep the agencies and organisations involved in the refugee camps properly informed about the true facts regarding thengolops and their activities.
The people’s representatives of Lhuntsi and Dagana Dzongkhags said that while theycould understand the position of the concerned organisations if the people in the campshad been forced to leave Bhutan, they are utterly shocked that people who refused toremain in the country when His Majesty the King himself had repeatedly appealed tothem not to leave have been given refugee status and are receiving assistance from theseorganisations and the Nepalese government. They once again emphasised the need toproperly apprise these agencies and the Nepalese government about the true factsregarding the ngolops.
The Samtse Dzongda informed the people’s representatives that since he took office inSamtse in 1992, about 400 Lhotshampas from his Dzongkhag had emigrated and left forNepal despite all efforts to dissuade them from leaving. After registering themselves inthe refugee camps in eastern Nepal, some of these people have been coming back tocarry out terrorist activities in the Dzongkhag. He also informed the Assembly that over 20 Indian journalists and 14 Western journalists have visited Samtse Dzongkhag to seethe true situation for themselves. Members of international organisations and nongovernmentalorganisations, and officials from foreign embassies have also visited Samtse. They have all seen and studied the situation and know the true facts, including whether people have been forcefully evicted or not.
For instance, in May 1994, 269 persons from Dorokha Dungkhag came to Samtse and insisted on emigrating to Nepal despite every effort by all of us in the Dzongkhag Headquarters to persuade them to withdraw their applications, he said. Even after reading to them a Kasho sent by His Majesty the King appealing to them not to leave and exempting all rural taxes for three years to all those who withdrew their applications, only 32 persons accepted His Majesty’s Kasho and stayed back. All the others left for Nepal. Journalists and NGO members who have met these people and interviewed other emigrants and their neighbours know whether they were forced to leave or left of their own free will.
He agreed with the people’s representatives that it is indeed shocking to see the Nepalesegovernment and the concerned outside agencies according refugee status and givingassistance to people who have emigrated from the country despite every effort topersuade them to stay back, especially when many of these very people have beencoming back to carry out terrorist activities inside Bhutan.
The representative of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry reminded theNational Assembly that in October, 1991, Prime Minister G.P. Koirala of Nepal had clearly stated in a BBC interview that in 1952 he had helped to organise the first attemptby the Lhotshampas to rise against the Royal Government of Bhutan which had giventhem shelter and Kidu when they came to the country without any possessions to theirnames. It is very significant also, he said, that the relatives of some of the ngolop leaders today were involved in this attempt organised by the former Prime Minister of Nepal.
Persons carrying out ngolop activities as well as those who have been taking Kidu Soilra and emigrating have all been going straight to Nepal because they are beinggiven full support and encouraged to come there. It is important that these facts areexplained clearly to all those who are extending assistance to the ngolops, he said. Speaking on the issue, the Foreign Minister assured the people’s representatives that thecountries and international organisations and agencies giving assistance to the people inthe refugee camps in Nepal have been kept informed about the true facts regarding thengolops.
He said that one of the main reasons why some of the organisations areextending assistance to the people in the camps is to proselytise and convert as many ofthem as possible in return for free handouts of food and clothing, free education andhealth facilities, and other incentives. He informed the members that more than 3,000people in the camps have already been converted to Christianity. Some of theorganisations and countries involved in giving assistance to the people in the camps aredoing so for political reasons and others because all the people in the camps are ethnicNepalese, he said.
The Samdrupjongkhar Dzongda recalled that in February 1992, His Majesty the Kingtoured all the villages in Bhangtar, Daifam and Samrang by foot to meet with theLhotshampas who had applied to emigrate and appealed to them to stay back. Whilethese people assured His Majesty that they would not leave, the moment His Majestyreturned to Thimphu they all insisted on emigrating and pressed for their applications tobe processed without delay. Members of the media and foreign organisations who havevisited southern Bhutan are fully aware of the true facts since they have carried out theirown study of the situation and have also observed the emigration procedures and seenall relevant records and documents. Since some international organisations andcountries are giving assistance to these people who have left Bhutan on the basis of theirfalse allegations against the Royal Government, it is necessary to make them understandthat there are really no grounds at all for treating these people as refugees, he said.
The National Assembly resolved that the Royal Government must make every effort toclearly brief the international agencies and countries extending assistance to the peoplein the refugee camps in Nepal about the ngolops and their true motives and activities.The National Assembly also resolved that when the Nepal-Bhutan talks are held, theNepalese government must also be clearly briefed about the above views and concernsexpressed by the people’s representatives.
The complete text (155 pages) of TRANSLATION OF THE PROCEEDINGS AND RESOLUTIONS OF THE 73RD SESSION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF BHUTAN HELDFROM10TH AUGUST TO 2ND SEPTEMBER, 1995 can be found on this link: http://www.nab.gov.bt/downloads/1673rd%20Session.pdf
To answer this question, let me quote from an article by Alexander Casella:
“That events took another turn was due to an odd set of circumstances, namely the failure of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN refugee agency, to properly address the Kurdish crisis in northern
In the wake of the first Gulf War in 1991, the
The exodus caught the then-high commissioner for refugees, Madame Sadako Ogata, completely unprepared and exposed her to a wave of criticism both from Western governments and the non-governmental organization community.
To mitigate censure for her failure, Ogata created, within the UNHCR bureaucracy, a so-called Emergency Response Unit allegedly responsible for ensuring that the refugee agency be capable of responding at short notice to a sudden refugee crisis anywhere in the world.
However, with no further crises in sight but an unemployed emergency unit at hand, the UNHCR bureaucracy became a solution in search of a problem. That problem suddenly emerged in 1992, when the government of
Normally, the UNHCR, before intervening, would have undertaken a survey of the caseload to determine exactly their nationality and reasons for departure. Had this been undertaken, the inescapable conclusion would have been that the overwhelming majority were actually Nepalese and hence, by the fact that they were in their own country, did not qualifying for refugee status.
But Ogata did not run a tight shop and spurred by the urge to be perceived as active, the UNHCR opened seven camps without undertaking even a semblance of a survey of the arrivals. Over subsequent years, as the UNHCR kept on pouring money into the camps,
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