NEW DELHI: In yet another sign of increasing Chinese influence in India’s neighbourhood, Nepal is detaining refugees from China’s Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and handing them back to Chinese authorities.
Tibetan agencies in Kathmandu have brought the matter to the notice of the Indian embassy in Kathmandu but highly placed government sources said New Delhi is not inclined to take up the matter officially with Nepal.
According to information available with government agencies, Nepal intensified patrolling along its border with China in June and since then, has been regularly handing over Tibetan refugees, who were on their way to India, back to Chinese authorities. While Indian officials admitted this was another manifestation of China’s influence in Nepal, they said they had no option but to convey to the Tibetans that it may not be possible for India to intervene in the matter.
“The Indian embassy as well as some other embassies in Kathmandu are aware of the matter. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is trying to help us. We faced a similar situation in 2003 but it was sorted out. However, it started all over again in June this year,” Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office secretary in Kathmandu Trinlay Gyatso told TOI.
The first of such incidents was reported in June when 33 Tibetans who had crossed over into Nepal were caught and handed over to the Chinese. These refugees were on their way to India and by handing them over to China, Nepal violated its agreement with UNHCR to allow safe passage to Tibetan refugees to India. According to the human right groups active in Nepal, the three were jailed by Chinese authorities and they continue to languish there.
While New Delhi has its hands full dealing with the Maoist-instigated resentment in Nepal, China has quietly worked its way up not just within the Nepal establishment but also among its people with Chinese study centres mushrooming all over the country. China recently pledged $1.5 million to Nepal to check what it calls anti-China activities by Tibetans.