I had discovered rather belatedly that there was an email from someone (Suraj K. Budathoki). And as is my habit I had responded accordingly to the context. Only when someone else (Swadeshi Bhutani) responded the next day with reference to my email, I had to do some rechecking out of curiosity. I am sharing the correspondences so that anyone interested have equal opportunity of access.
The email from Suraj K. Budathoki.
Good morning sir, [26/5/14]
Come to know you from one of your friends and visited your blog- read it almost all your creations. I look forward to read your write-up related to southerner’s problem and citizenship acts/immigration laws that has tarnished the image of beautiful Bhutan in the world.
I am one of the victims of those serial citizenship acts and made to leave my beloved land even so I was put into F1 by census team of 1989 at 10yrs of innocent age.
Your creation- an eye opener to the world.
My response to the email.
Dear Suraj K. Budathoki, [5/6/14]
Sorry for the late response. It is not possible for a northern Bhutanese to really gauge the depth of difficulties that arose in Southern Bhutan. And especially for the young innocent of your age that time, it must be just too complex to comprehend or accept. I hope you have a better life now. The sad thing these days is that the census issue has been dehumanized into political tool but I sincerely hope that the people and the leadership will find a way to remove this unfortunate regionalism and race attitude of mistrust. A tiny Kingdom must work towards the goal of wholehearted unification.
You may have realized that I write on inspirations aroused by current events that take place in Bhutan or elsewhere and that my main concern is for the welfare of the nation and all her people. If an occasion demands then surely I would be inspired to express my feelings.
I don't know where you are residing but it was a huge relief for me when it became possible for many of those at JAFFA to go to the West to settle. At least they would have a permanent place to settle and begin a new life. It may not be their choice but under the circumstance somehow I felt more at peace. I always pray and hope that beautiful Bhutan will have a more united people and leadership. As years goes by and our young King gains more confidence and understanding, Bhutan would have brighter GNH future ahead. On your part please think well of Bhutan so that the people of the three regions will have the necessary Blessings of God and Well Wishers to achieve what we must all strive for a happy and secure home for all Bhutanese in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Warm regards and good luck,
The email next day from Swadeshi Bhutani referring to my above response.
Dear Mr. Sangey Wangcha, [6/6/14]
I am originally from Dagapela. I had to leave Bhutan in 1991, not because of my choice but because of circumstances. I always dream of my beloved country – Bhutan. I want to see peace and progress marching together in Bhutan, so that people in the country can live happily, no matter what ethnicity, religion, culture or tradition they follow or no matter what political ideology they belong to.
I read most of the articles published in your blog. I found them very articulate, inspiring and analytical. Your views and opinion are holistic towards addressing the current and retrospective issues existing in the country. Your optimism that the leadership and the people in the country work together to address them amicably sounds very positive. I am also optimistic that Bhutan – the land blessed by the teaching of Lord Buddha, known as the last Sangri-la on earth, will one day create the avenue for the resettled Bhutanese to recognize as the Non-Residential Bhutanese – who can join hand with the people inside the country and contribute in the task of nation building.
Bhutan is no more an absolute monarchical country. As per the demand of the time – the country has been transferred now into a parliamentary democracy under constitutional monarchy. I am pretty sure, the people and the palace will work hand in hand with mutual trust, respect and understanding to ensure the glorification of Bhutan’s name and fame across the globe.
The Indian new Prime Minster Narendra Modi, whom you have admired in your blog article, chooses to visit Bhutan, as his first foreign trip, giving high priority in the foreign policy of the government of India. This is a big plus point for Bhutan. Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay too is doing pretty well though the decision of his government’s recent pay hike does not really fulfil PDP’s commitment for people friendly and social welfare government in the country. Pay hike is going to impact the market inflammation, which will directly affect the lives of those who are living below the poverty line. Nevertheless, the visit of Indian PM is anticipated to give a new boost in Bhutan’s economic development plus address the long standing currency crisis.
Before concluding my mail (first mail to you), I would like to draw your kind attention of the plight of innocent southern Bhutanese citizens, who have to opt for third country resettlement after their wishes to return to their homestead could not be materialized even after two decades. Now, very small numbers of the people are left in the camps in Nepal, majority of whom are in the process of resettlement. I think by 2015 end, there will be no refugees left in the camps in Nepal and no more refugee issue between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal.
Bygone is bygone, no matter what happened in the past. People come and go, but the countries remain forever. Hence, it is the prime responsibility of every individual citizen to work for the greater interest of once country. As a legal consultant, I hope you would play significant role in promoting the Bhutan’s interest not only within the country but also outside. The resettled Bhutanese could make tremendous contribution in the socio-economic development. They can no more remain as liability for Bhutan, they can be potential assets provided the leadership in Thimphu play the constructive role, take pragmatic decision and move forward.
The resettled Bhutanese can be the ambassadors by themselves in promoting the aims and objectives of the GNH in the practical and truest sense. If the people of your caliber could play your potential role by convincing the government for opening the door of recognizing the exiled Bhutanese as the non-residential Bhutanese, it will be a new milestone for the progress and prosperity of Bhutan. It is 21st century, and the world has become a global village now.
I look forward hearing from your kind end.
Dear Mr. Narad or whoever you are,
Your unexpected mail was a surprise especially because your mail was based on my reply to Suraj K. Budathoki’s email. By the way I wasn’t curious before but after your email I checked up who Budathoki is. Usually as a matter of principle I do not seek to find out who the emailer is but rather react accordingly to the subject in context. I was not sure whether the name Budathoki belonged to a man or a woman that was why I did not put either Mr. or Ms. The name had sounded familiar though I couldn’t place it. I didn’t know he was heading a human rights office but now I realize why the name was familiar. He used to be in the Kuensel News about troubles in Southern Bhutan. It was long time back and now in the back burner of memory. Since you two share emails maybe you work together.
Talking of the past rather than simply burying it actually I believe is a kind of healing process. Many years back I wrote about the Uprising in the South and mailed the letters to the leaders in Bhutan. I wanted a healing process to begin and I wanted also that both southern and northern Bhutanese to see the third perspective not just the perspective of the deeply aggrieved southerner and dismayed possibly shocked northerner.
I appreciate the fact that Mr. Budathoki wrote to me under his real name. But who are you really Narad? Is it Narayani, Narayani or are you prepared to share some personal information?
I am replying your email for several reasons:
- You refer to Buddhism and you concede to the fact of people and palace working together. By these references you indicate acceptance the role of Buddhist religion and Buddhist King the two pillars of Bhutanese social, cultural and political spheres.
- You said that “the visit of Indian PM is anticipated to give new boost in Bhutan’s economic development plus address the long standing currency crisis.” So maybe you have close source at New Delhi or Thimphu because I don’t know what Mr. Modi aims to do or say during his visit.
And yes as you have pointed out I have admired the ways that Mr. Modi conducted till now. I definitely feel he will be a better change for Bhutan than Gandhis ever were. Even then it is too early to gauge his intentions and substantive style. I am actually quite interested to see how Modi places Advani in the BJP or his government hierarchy after that very public Guru-pupil kind of affection display. That will confirm the meeting point of public style and actual ground substance in the arena of even external affairs. Was the invitation to SAARC leaders a sign of friends at par or was it simply a public purpose to prop up his swearing in ceremony?
Now to answer your question on the issue of non-resident status for Jaffa refugees settled in the West. I am delving into this subject only because you seem to be a worthy engagement. In spite of being anonymous, you have presented your credentials quite unambiguously.
I am a legal consultant for the reason that some prefer to seek legal advices from me. However I have no connection or influence with the government. I don’t think what I say or write will have effect on the policy of Bhutan because I am just one of the many bloggers in Bhutan. But over the years I have found that I sometimes have this uncanny ways of feeling the wind of future direction. So let me share with you for all its worth. Hope I am not wasting both our times.
Non-residential Bhutanese status (NRB status) seems rather far away when viewed from present knoll. You state that by 2015 all Jaffa refugees will be resettled and there will be no issues between Nepal and Bhutan. Thank you for the information and the confidence that you express with. This NRB status is a new thought to me. However since you are saying it, maybe the concept has been already floated. How different is it from granting outright citizenship which you say was not agreeable in the last twenty years? And further re-settlers would have received the citizenship of the host country. Bhutan usually does not agree with dual citizenship though exceptions maybe in practice for few lucky westerners in Bhutan. I won’t say that NRB status is a farfetched hope but for the foreseeable future, the burning issue is not NRB status. Its citizenship for those who have chosen to stay in Bhutan and not those who were at Jaffa. Political parties in Bhutan may say many things during elections but somehow there is yet to be a comprehensive process to expedite a definite way forward.
As I had said in my reply to Mr. Budathoki’s email, a united effort within Bhutan is necessary to sort out such social pains and distrust. I take great heart in His Majesty’s handling of the acrimonious land issues that happened after the 1st cadastral survey. And in like manner, it is possible that His Majesty will bring about comprehensive ways to sort out the citizenship issues. We have to be prepared to give the Crown some more time and leeway.
The Kings of Bhutan are historically quite liberal with citizenship grants. I remember Bhutan offering Tibetan refugees citizenship and many of them spurned the offer. Regarding the Jaffa refugees, it could be quite a predicament to offer non-resident Bhutanese status because the exodus to Jaffa (planned or compelled) was preceded by a time when the yellow and orange flag was being dragged along the paths of protest March and down with the Kingdom was the offensive chorus. Even then in every such conflict many innocent by default get victimized. It’s for those innocent victims that I feel for.
Please do not mind but I am putting all the exchanges on my blog. I think it’s the right thing. Its uncomfortable keeping exchanges of national nature between few individuals. In any case you came to know of me through my blog. Wishing you a good day.