Nepal arrests two Tibetan refugees from Nepal-Tibet border

DHARAMSALA, July 20: Authorities in Nepal have detained two Tibetans who were trying to cross the border into Tibet through Tatopani border.

Kunga, 25 and Lophankhu, 37 were arrested on Tuesday night as they were trying to enter Tibet illegally through Tatopani border point by the Nepalese border security personnel deployed at Kodari in Sindhupalchowk district, The Himalayan Times reported on July 19.

According to the report, the two men from Lhasa were travelling without proper travel documents along with Wanbo, 20, a Chinese citizen from Shigatse.

The report further stated that while the trio was arrested, Kunga and Lophankhu had identified themselves as ‘Tibetan refugees’ and had shown student identity cards of academic institutions of Arunachal Pradesh in India.

The Chinese national on the other hand had overstayed in Nepal after his visa has expired, the report noted. The DOI has also noted in the report that they will either be fined and deported or sent to jail.

The trio has since been handed over to the Department of Immigration(DOI) in Nepal for further investigation and that the DOI has summoned the ‘representatives of the Chinese Embassy’ today to discuss their legal status.

“The representatives from the Chinese Embassy came earlier today and took Wanbo from the DOI where they were being held,” Sangpo from Human Rights Organization of Nepal(HURON) told Tibet Express.

“The two Tibetans were school dropouts from TCV Suja and they have met the Chinese man a month ago in Nepal and that the Chinese man has offered to help them to return to Tibet,” Sangpo added.

The official from the HURON has met the two Tibetans and said that they will be deported to India as they hold Identity cards issued by the Indian Government.

“While one of the detainees has Aadhar card, the other one has Registration Certificate(RC) issued to Tibetan refugees in India by the Indian Government. So once we submit its copy to the DOI, they will be sent back to India within few days,” Sangpo concluded.

After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959, more than 20,000 Tibetan refugees have settled in Nepal. But after the 2008 Pan-Tibetan movement, the Chinese Communist regime strengthened its foothold in Nepal by investing heavily on the infrastructure in Nepal. Hence the number of Tibetans crossing the treacherous Himalayan mountain passes to reach Nepal before seeking political asylum in India declined drastically.

Human Rights Watch has said in the past that,  Nepal faces intense Chinese pressure to limit the flow of Tibetans crossing the border and restrictions have helped stem the number of those fleeing Tibet.

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