Hindu Nationalism

Topics: Refugee, Hindutva, Hinduism, Nepal / Pages: 10 (2450 words) / Published: Feb 20th, 2013
Sanjeev Kumar (2012): ‘Sangh Parivar and the Bhutanese Refugees: Constructing a Hindu Diaspora in the US’ in John Zavos, Pralay Kanungo, Deepa S. Reddy, Maya Warrier and Raymond B. Williams (Eds.) Public Hinduism, Sage Publications

Sangh Parivar and the Bhutanese Refugees: Constructing a Hindu Diaspora in the US By

Sanjeev Kumar
I happened to meet Bhutanese refugees of Nepali origin for the first time at a Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) camp in Tampa, Florida in December 2008. These refugees travelled to the US via Nepal, having left Bhutan and entered Nepal in the 1990s. The refugee crisis was prompted by Government-sponsored discrimination against Nepali speakers in Bhutan (Banki 2008). In the late 1990s the first batch of refugees (called Lhotshampai) began to move out of Bhutan, and entered Nepal. The Bhutan, however, refused to recognize these Lhotshampas as refugees from Bhutan and Nepal refused to acknowledge them as Nepali citizens. By 2008, some 130,000 Bhutanese people of Nepali origin had been forced to live in exile for more than 17 years (Hutt 2006; Banki 2008). In Nepal, around 105,000 of these refugees lived in refugee camps organised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Morang and the Jhapa districts of south-eastern Nepal and the rest lived in different parts of Nepal and India (Hutt 2006; HRW 2007; Banki 2008; and UNHCR 2010). After years of failed negotiations between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal, in 2006, at the request of UNHCR, the United States declared its willingness to accommodate 60,000 of these refugees (UNHCR 2009). Countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands promised to accommodate the rest of 45,000 Lhotshampa refugees from the UNHCR refugee camps (UNHCR 2009). The idea of third country settlement initially met with some stiff resistance; amongst its strongest opponents were those organisations that were supporting the cause of Bhutanese refugees in



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