Bhutan refugees not to cross border, Nepal assures India

March 17th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by admin  

Darjeeling, Mar 17 (ANI): Nepal has assured India that it would not allow refugees trying to sneak back into their birthplace in Bhutan to cross the border.

According to officials, the assurance came at a meeting between Indian and Nepalese authorities during a border management meeting in Darjeeling on Sunday.

The two countries agreed to work together in preventing the Bhutanese
refugees from crossing into India as they try to enter Bhutan ahead of its first parliamentary elections later this month.

“They have assured us that they will not allow the Bhutanese refugees to cross the border and will assist the Indian enforcement agencies to take care of the law and order, said Rajesh Pandey, District Magistrate, Darjeeling.

The authorities at the meeting agreed to work at maintaining law and order in the border areas as the refugees are demanding the right to return to their birthplace to vote.

“One thing that I would like to assure is that there will be no disturbance along the Indo-Nepal border,” Sankat Prasad Koirala, Chief District Officer of Jhapa District, Nepal.

Tens of thousands of mainly Hindu ethnic Nepalis were either expelled or fled mainly Buddhist Bhutan in the early 1990s following pro-democracy protests, which also called for human rights and ending alleged discrimination.

Over 100,000 people live in refugee camps in Nepal, from where three small rebel groups have emerged, the Bhutan Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), the Bhutan Tiger Force and the United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan.

The Indian Army has put its forces on “maximum alert” along the 400-km border with Bhutan to prevent insurgents sneaking in to disrupt the polls and is coordinating intensified border patrols with Bhutan.

India fears that allowing the refugees into the country could spark disturbances within its borders. The refugees would have to cross the West Bengal to reach Bhutan from Nepal. (ANI)

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