Bhutanese Refugees : Story Of Hope From Bhutanese


Bhutanese refugees  :The northeast of India is now heating up – due to the Bhairah movement for a separate Gorkhaland and the Doklama stalemate. The movement for a separate Gorkhaland with a different ethnic identity made me want to talk about the existing caste discrimination in Bhutan and the identity of those of us who were expelled from the country.

Bhutanese refugees
Bhutanese refugees

Even if we speak the same language, we consider ourselves Nepali, Bhutanese refugees, Gorkhali, etc. We are not able to determine what our identity is based on – language, culture or disguise. In India and Bhutan, those who speak ‘Nepali’ language are considered to belong to Nepal. That is why we were chased away from Bhutan by one lakh.

The expulsion of ‘Nepalis’ from many states of India has not stopped. Nepalis call those who speak ‘Nepali’ language Nepali wherever they live outside Nepal, but those living outside Nepal do not like to call themselves ‘Nepali’ in many cases due to the situation where they should be despised as ‘Nepali’. The question arises as to why Nepal calls us ‘Nepalese’. Gorkhali and Gorkhaland are a starting point of different identities.

If the state of Nepal itself was economically and politically strong, perhaps a single ‘Nepali’ identity would suffice.

Introduction and identity-Bhutanese refugees

 bhutani saranarthi
Bhutanese refugees

Although identity and identity are used in parallel in some contexts, there is no similarity in the meaning of these words. Identity is indicative of individualism while identity is group. The answer to the question ‘Who is it?’ May not be just the name and surname. This question is equally valid when it comes to seeking identity.

Those of us who are deported from Bhutan consider ourselves Bhutanese refugees, Lhotsampa, or Bhutanese-Nepalese, and some Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees. Identification is not an easy subject, there are no simple formulas. Individual and group identities are formed by the needs of the society, political, cultural, economic environment and geographical location.

The introduction is fixed, certain. But identity is not always stable. It moves. It is variable. This is a constantly changing process. Identification time should be relevant and environmentally friendly.

The historical aspect of ‘Bhutanese’ -Bhutanese refugees

Bhutanese refugees
Bhutanese refugees

We have not created Nepaliness in Bhutan. This is an introduction made by the Shah dynasty kings in the process of expanding their power. Of course, those Shahs and their followers considered themselves Gorkhalis before the construction of Nepal. The ‘Gorakh’ devotees of the Indian royal family have made themselves Gorkhalis by expanding their power by entering the hills. The identity of the Gorkhas did not last long, establishing a new identity after the expansion of power. In that sense, ‘Nepali’ is a new identity created by political change.

We who went to Bhutan are both before and after the construction of Nepal. The process of going to Bhutan only started in 1624, and since then we cannot deny the history of many Gorkhalis and Nepalis entering the Eastern Himalayas. We have reached a lot before the creation of Bhutan and now Greater India. We traveled to many places in the Himalayan region without building Nepal, India and Bhutan. We were neither Nepali, nor Bhutanese, nor Gorkhali at that time.

Bhutan is just a century old. Some of us became natives before becoming Bhutanese. We were neither Bhutanese nor Nepali at that time. In time, we became Bhutanese. Nepali became our spoken language. After the creation of Nepal, our ethnic identity became Nepali. Our relationship with Nepal is linked by culture, dress and language. We became Nepali speaking Bhutanese. The rulers of Bhutan have added a new identity to us Bhutanese ‘Nepali’ speakers – Lotsampa. Bhutanese refugees

Even when Lotsampa was built, we were called Nepalis again and were deported. Since then, many terms have been coined to denote our identity. After rehabilitation, our identity is changing again. We are immersed in an ocean of multiculturalism and multilingualism, where no one hears the voice of our existence in the distance and no one sees the effort of our existence. As we learn to integrate into this multiculturalism, how can a new victim grow up to shape his or her identity according to our thoughts and ideas? In our view, the future is not simple, not easy.

Identity building-Bhutanese refugees

Geography, culture, language and costume are important backbones of identity. Politics and social norms play a supporting role. Of these, culture plays the biggest role. Some scholars have equated the role of language and culture, while others have given importance to language. However, there are plenty of examples of Cayenne societies with the same language carrying different identities. The diverse identities seen based on the culture of English speakers can be the easiest example.

According to Nepali sociologist Rishikesh Regmi, a group with the same lineage, socially suitable cultural and physical characteristics and similar attitudes and behaviors can form a group with different identities. However, he said that various castes can also be included in this group. If we look at this interpretation in our context, we will stumble upon the ‘Nepali’ identity. However, the voices of those who say that our identity is insufficient only with that word are being raised among us.Bhutanese refugees

Even if we look at Bhutan’s own history, culture has played a big role in building identity. Believe it or not, Bhutan’s current identity is that of a Bakhu-wearing caste, a Buddhist, a majority of lamas, culturally and linguistically close to Tibet, and a country of monasteries and monasteries. Where is the place of identity known as ‘Nepali’ in Bhutan? There is no one who can write Nepali language in the country, there is no place to read Nepali.

With the campaign of Nepali language development Connected person not found there. The names of places that reflect Nepaliness have been changed. In the cultural program, except for a few dhotis of Indian culture, there are only those who wear bakhu. The costumes of our culture are worn out. How can identity survive in a place where language and culture are intertwined?

The Jonkha language has been developing for only about five decades. Even before that, Bhutan’s identity was the same as it is today. Though politically close to India, culture has made its identity inseparable. It has made a different country than India. The country’s law has also played a role in building Bhutan’s identity. Bhutan’s theory that “pluralism (of language and culture) is possible only in geographically large countries” has also helped in building Bhutan’s single identity. Bhutanese refugees

Nepali, Gorkhali or something else- Bhutanese refugees

We all give a hint of ‘Nepaliness’ while showing our identity. Today, even in practical terms, our relationship with Nepal is deeper than that of Bhutan. Nepal is becoming our in-laws village after rehabilitation. Whether it is for tourism or to meet relatives, to start a pilgrimage or to start a married life, Nepal is becoming our main destination today. Even in Northeast India and Bhutan, there are plenty of people who believe in our culture and speak the language, but we have found warmth in Nepal, we have received warm hospitality. Due to this, we are not allowing the smell of ‘Nepali’ identity to be removed from our identity. It is unlikely that this relationship will be broken in the future as well.

Calling ourselves Bhutanese, we are making no effort other than a political movement to expand relations with Bhutan. We are limiting Bhutanese to speech and paper. Does it help perpetuate our ‘Bhutanese refugees’ identity?

However, in the resettled country, we are trying to identify ourselves as ‘Bhutanese’ different from Nepalis. The argument that we are Bhutanese because we were born in Bhutan, that we have been resettled as Bhutanese refugees is certainly valid. The implication of this argument – identity based on birth – may not apply at all. If the place of birth is considered as the basis of identity, then after our resettlement, the identity of our new generation, the generation born in Nepal and the generation born in Bhutan will be different. We are not a society with the same identity. Our family became three identities. Bhutanese refugees

After the rehabilitation, we have not been able to reconcile with the Nepalis who have settled here. Instead, we are getting more and more upset with those living in Nepal. Bhutanese and Nepalis have separate societies, unions. One does not get membership in the other’s organization. We Bhutanese are not counted among the ‘non-resident Nepalis’ of Nepal.

In my opinion, the word ‘Nepali’ must have two meanings. One – speaking Nepali language, and two – citizens of Nepal. There were some differences in international usage – Naples and Nepali. It was easy for Nepali citizens to distinguish between Naples and Nepali speakers. Lately, the practice of writing Nepali (Nepali) to Nepali citizens in English has started to increase in Nepal. Apart from calling themselves Gurkhas, non-citizens of Nepal but those who speak the same language have started seeing embarrassment in their identity. Bhutanese refugees

Conclusion- Bhutanese refugees

Bhutanese refugees
Bhutanese refugees

Our history is very lost. We changed geography many times but continued the culture. Therefore, the basis of our identity building should be culture. This is not a matter to be prepared in a few days or a few years. This requires continuous efforts for decades. With this objective in mind, there should be a broader debate, discussion, and efforts to breathe new life into it. Bhutanese refugees

Even after 110 years of the Gorkhaland movement in India, the small community has not been able to establish its identity. Establishing Gorkhaland may be expected to help in bridging the gap between ‘Nepalese in Nepal’ and ‘Nepalese outside Nepal’ in the long run.

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