CONNECTING NATIONS, a monthly magazine publication registered by Government of India clarifies Indo-Bhutan issues:
Construction of border walls at Jaigaon-Phuentsholing demarcation:
Fact check: On 9th & 10th of September 2021, a “ Joint Technical Level meeting between India & Bhutan on Indo- Bhutan boundary task was held at Chalsa-Malbazaar, Hotel Sinclairs.” During this meeting, representatives from GoI & RGoB were present. Further, a joint survey at the Jaigaon-Phuentsholing border was decided as one of the outcomes of the meeting.
On the 14th of October 2021, a joint survey was conducted at the Indo-Bhutan border (Jaigaon- Phuentsholing) by representatives from Survey of India (T. Kharbyngngar, Surveyor from Shillong), 53rd Battalion SSB, Jaigaon Police, Jaigaon Development Authority from India. From Bhutan, representatives from the Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, RGoB, TashiTenzin, Survey Officer, International Boundaries, Thimphu: Bhutan, SSP Royal Bhutan Police & other Dungkhag officials were present.
Subsequently, after survey & area demarcation, demolition & re-construction of the Border wall began on the 24th of November 2021 in presence of Officials & Government representatives from India & Bhutan. Locals witnessed the process and there was no resistance from residents of Jaigaon and Phuentsholing.
Hence, the facts & findings clearly indicate that the construction of border wall is at par with bilateral meetings where both the Indian & Bhutanese governments and their representatives are prior informed. As of now, there is no such outrage amongst residents of Jaigaon or Phuentsholing.
Southern Bhutanese Refugees & Nepalese being discriminated by Bhutan.
Fact check: In local media, it is being claimed by a few reporters that the Bhutanese Government is targeting SBR/Nepalese communities in Bhutan.
Considering the global impact of the covid19 pandemic, unemployment is on rising in most of the developing and underdeveloped nations. The post lockdown economic scenario of Bhutan is miserable as most of the business sectors & industries is either temporarily closed or non-operational at full pace. In fact, hundreds of Indian skilled workers can be seen at Bhutan Gate (Phuentsholing) on daily basis queuing up to enter Bhutan.
Businessmen & industrialists in Bhutan prefer Indian skilled workers over Bhutanese workers. Any allegations on SBR/Nepalese communities here seem irrelevant in any manner. Such impact if any is faced by workers from every segment of society despite their caste, creed, or nationalities. It is learned that despite such challenges Bhutan is still welcoming skilled workers from India.
Indian Businessmen in Bhutan are ill-treated.
Fact check: Businesses and Businessmen on either side of Jaigaon & Phuentsholing are suffering during this pandemic and sealing of the Bhutan Border. Local vendors from Jaigaon were largely dependent on commuters from Phuentsholing. As there is no direct Bhutanese buyer these days, many shopkeepers & vendors here at Jaigaon had already migrated to different places.
Subsequently, business entities like foreign goods, import items were readily available in Phuentsholing and Indians were the prospective buyers. Bars & Restaurants were the prime sources of revenue generation for Phuentsholing; but as of now, such establishments are permanently closed. Shop owners had already migrated to Thimphu and Punakha for alternative sources of livelihood. The effect of pandemics can be seen in both the twin towns of Jaigaon & Phuentsholing. Things are believed to get back to streamlining once the covid19 global pandemic is normalized.
Watchtowers erected by Bhutan are unnecessary:
Fact check: Since the inception of lockdown during March 2020, the Smuggling of contrabands/narco substances was rising across the Jaigaon-Phuentsholing border.
Most of the National media from Bhutan and local media from Jaigaon covered multiple articles and stories on the smuggling of contrabands/narco substances. Reports and findings state that such contrabands were thrown/exchanged at border walls. Despite three meters of no man land at the border wall, the road/passages were widely used by people from both sides to sell and exchange such prohibited items during the broad daylight and mostly during late night.
To monitor such illegal activities at the border, regular patrolling was not practically possible for Indian as well as Bhutanese border authorities.
Lately, Bhutan then came up with an idea of erecting Watch Towers at sensitive border points to monitor any of such activities. As a result, such smuggling activities at Border walls were dramatically brought down after the erection of multiple watchtowers. Moreover, the installation of CCTVs and Watchtowers has added extra security for the residents & authorities of Phuentsholing as well as Jaigaon.
Fact check: Of all the rumors & pro-China behaviour, Bhutan recently ruled out any such hoax.
On 17th of December 2021, coinciding with 114th National Day, His Majesty, The King of Bhutan conferred the Highest Civilian Award to Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India.
Such a gesture by Bhutan once again strengthens the ties with its friendly nation, India.
India & Bhutan share a brotherly relationship. A landlocked nation, a sovereign country with a population of nearly 7 lakhs shares bilateral relationships with India. Our relationships with Bhutan are age-old comprising of trust, happiness, and harmony.
“Bharat for Bhutan & Bhutan for Bharat” was cited by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi during his first international visit to Bhutan in the year 2014.
“3-B” model of “Bharat-Bhutan-Brotherhood” is truly a trendsetting example for other nations too.
Note: The views expressed is entirely of CONNECTING NATIONS.