Dharamsala, Sept 23 - Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister said Monday that the government would soon decide the fate of Tibetan refugees residing in Nepal as the country would no longer be able to bear the burden they cause. "The government will soon decide the matter through review of the existing laws or by giving them the status of Nepali citizens," he was quoted as saying by the Kantipuronline as saying.
The Deputy Prime Minister, who also holds the portfolio of home ministry, was speaking to journalists in Pokhara yesterday.
He also said that the government would take very strict measures to stop the use of Nepali soil against others. "We'll arrest the protesting Tibetans and initiate action against those having identity cards while handing over others with no identity papers to the UNHCR."
There are around 14,000 Tibetans here with ID cards and refugee status, which the government conferred on Tibetans entering Nepal before 1985. It has been 13 years since the government stopped issuing such ID cards even as around 2,500 Tibetans have been entering Nepal every year, reports Kantipuronline
"Most of those (Tibetans) arrested don't possess identity card or passports which means they are living in Nepal illegally," Gautam said, adding, "If we can't stop this, we are not a country."
Claiming that over 100,000 Tibetans have been sheltering in Nepal on various pretexts, Gautam said, "If we continue issuing identity cards to every Tibetan, they will double within 50 years. So, it's high time we decided over this as we can't keep them here like this any more."
He also warned the Tibetans not to "misuse" the rights given them as a goodwill. "Legal action will be taken if they are found misusing their rights while in Nepal."
Meanwhile, Nepal's Ambassador to China, Tanka Karki, said that China is happy with the action the government of Nepal has been taking against Tibetan protesters in Kathmandu. However, according to Mike Dunham who interviewed the Deputy Prime Minister on September 18, he was told by Gautam that the 'Tibetans would not be in danger of being deported to China-not now nor in the future'