Darjeeling, June 7: The Bengal government today admitted that it is worried about the threat posed by Bhutanese refugees from Nepal who have been trying to return to Bhutan through India.
“We are definitely concerned about the organised efforts being made by (the refugees) to enter Indian territory,” said Amit Kiran Deb, the chief secretary of the state, after a meeting held at the Darjeeling district magistrate’s office here today.
Deb met representatives of the district administration, police and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to review security arrangements on the India-Nepal border, keeping in mind the June-15 deadline set by the refugees, who want to go back to Bhutan to take part in the hill kingdom’s first general elections.
Indian security agencies had clashed with the refugees on Mechi Bridge connecting India to Nepal at the end of last month. After two days of skirmishes, the refugees had agreed to suspend their movement till June 15.
“We have informed the Centre of the developments,” said Deb.
The chief secretary was non-committal when asked about the Indian government’s stand on the status of the Nepalese of Bhutan origin living in the refugee camps of the Jhapa district of Nepal. While Nepal calls them refugees, they are termed “infiltrators” by Bhutan.
Deb was also asked why the Indian forces were stopping the refuges from entering India when Clause VIII of the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship allows the citizens of the two countries to move about freely in each other’s territory. There is also no restriction on Bhutanese people entering India.
Deb, however, clarified that the Indian forces had pushed back the people (refugees) into Nepal because “it was an organised mob”. “Peace and tranquillity was at stake and the assembly was unlawful,” the chief secretary said in defence of Darjeeling police and the SSB.