Indian authorities aid crackdown in Bhutan

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Indian authorities aid crackdown in Bhutan

Around 400 Bhutanese refugees were deported to Nepal by the Indian Central Reserve Police Force in January, according to the Students Union of Bhutan. These refugees were trying to participate in a scheduled peaceful demonstration in Phuntsholing (in Bhutan).

Despite strict vigilance by Indian authorities, on January 23 some 40 Bhutanese refugees managed to reach Bhutan for the planned demonstration.

The rally, which started from the vegetable market in Phuntsholing, was joined by hundreds of local residents. Soon they were surrounded and attacked with batons, boots and fists. Seventy people are reported to have sustained injuries, two of them seriously.

Around 150 of the demonstrators were arrested, and another 200 were detained in the school ground by the Bhutanese Security Force without food or water till 9pm.

That night the refugee participants were handed over to Indian authorities, who in turn deported them to Nepal. However, the Indian side refused to take the responsibility of deporting the two seriously injured participants, Yadu Prashad Acharya (28) and Netra Prashad Kafley (25). Their whereabouts are not known.

A planned demonstration in the capital city of Thimphu could not materialise due to tight security. It is feared that those arrested by the Bhutan government will be tortured, and a countrywide crackdown is expected.

The Bhutanese have been fighting for a multi-party parliamentary democracy. They are demanding the early repatriation of all Bhutanese refugees to their original homes and compensation for their losses, and release of all the political prisoners held captive in Bhutan's jails for the last 10 years.