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Terror link ‘hurts’ evicted Nepalese

Siliguri, April 4: Senior refugee leaders in eastern Nepal have condemned the alleged involvement of youths from their camps in militant activities.

“We are shocked and deeply hurt that some youths from our camps have been found to have links with extremist outfits,” Balaram Poudyal, president of the Bhutan People’s Party (BPP), told The Telegraph from Birtamore in eastern Nepal. “We will fully support the Indian government in taking action against the guilty.”

Poudyal said the solution to the refugee problem lay in peaceful negotiations.

Mohan Tamang, convener of India-Bhutan Friendship Association, said extremist outfits were taking advantage of the frustrated youths in the camp.

“There are thousands of them who were either born in the camps or came here with parents when they were very small. They have nothing to do and no future to look forward to. They are a frustrated lot and want a way out. The extremist groups are taking advantage of this helplessness,” he said. Poudyal also feared the youths could be part of a larger ploy of the Bhutan government “to show the refuges in poor light”.

Over 1.1 lakh people of Nepalese origin live in seven camps run by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal ever since their mass eviction from Bhutan in the late 80s and early 90s.

The exodus followed the implementation of the Bhutan Citizenship Act of 1985 and the nationwide census of 1988, which was protested by the Lhotsampas (as Nepalis are called in Bhutan). They were held responsible for creating “demographic imbalance” in the kingdom.

“We are now hopeful that there will be a permanent solution to this long-standing crisis with democracy coming to Bhutan,” Tamang said. “The party we wanted won the elections and nine of the winning representatives are Lhotsampas (there are about 2 lakh of them in Bhutan).”

In an unexpected result, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa defeated People’s Democratic Party, which had largely the kith and kin of the king as candidates, by winning 44 of the 47 seats in Bhutan’s first-ever elections held last month.

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