DAMAK, Sept 16: They are tried, but they have not given up hope. Bhutanese refugees in Beldangi of Jhapa want to go home. The elderly refugees wish to ‘die in Bhutan’. As long as there is life, there is hope, they say.
“Our lives are full of harrowing tales. Poverty, disease, pain and fear have surrounded us ever since we were forced out of Bhutan, our homeland,” noted Harka Jung Subba. “We have been reiterating that we want to go back. They arranged for third-country settlement and many left for overseas. But there are some of us who want to die in Bhutan,” he added.
Subba is 70. His only other family member left at the refugee camp is his wife. Both remain sick most of the times. “This is natural in old age. You can’t have a robust body and a strong mind,” he said.
The couple’s children and grandchildren are in the USA. They sometimes send them money.
The children even insist the old couple to get to the USA. “But we want to go to Bhutan,” Subba insists.
The issue of Bhutanese refugees has gradually failed to draw the attention of media and the government. They are ‘a forgotten lot’ now. But, as long as life remains, they can’t help dreaming of getting back to their homeland. According to Subba, the fight is on.
“We are united and we are still raising our voice. It is our right, our desire to reach Bhutan before we die,” he insisted.
He has formed ‘Bhutan Swatantra Manch’. This committee is joined by many others like him who are ‘dying to go back home’.
“If I go to the USA now, how can I get back to my home? It is likely that I will die there. So I won’t go,” said Subba. “There are many others like me who fear of dying before returning home. All of us have a single dream,” he added.
But the way to Bhutan is not that easy. There are around 7,000 Bhutanese in the camp now. Instead of ration, they now get cash for expenses. And the declining attention of the Nepal government and human rights groups is quite apparent.
Subba insists for trilateral talks between Nepal, Bhutan and India on the issue. Had India been supportive, they would already been at home, he said.
“We are humans and we should be treated like one. The three governments can help us if they want to. We urge them to have a talk on this and solve the issue,” he suggested.