By Tenzin Dharpo
The Tatopani border point between Nepal and occupied Tibet. photo-Nepalkhabar
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 17: Drastic clampdown at border regions linking Nepal and occupied Tibet is the main reason the number of Tibetans arriving into India has nosedived, a senior official from the department of security in the exile Tibetan government here said today.
“The total number of Tibetans that have been documented in the official list is just 80 in the year 2018 which is among the lowest in the past years,” Karma Rinchen, the Secretary of department of security told Phayul on enquiry.
The official count is of Tibetan refugees that cross into Nepal through treacherous border regions and reach the Tibetan reception center in Kathmandu who later travel to Dharamshala, the seat of the exile Tibetan diaspora.
Many of the rooms of the compound that the Tibetan authorities built for refugees here in Dharamshala now remain empty and unused as the number of refugees have dropped drastically in the last few years. The clampdown on the routes used by Tibetan refugees began post 2008 after the Pan-Tibet uprising.
Nepal where refugees initially arrive on transit to India has proved to be hostile grounds as the alliance between Kathmandu and Beijing grew stronger in the recent years. In July 2018, two Tibetan men fleeing occupied Tibet, Kunga, 25, and Lophankhu, 37, both residents of Lhasa were held by Nepalese border security personnel at the Tatopani border point in Kodari in Sindhupal chowk district and later returned to Tibet.
The Chinese government is pushing for joint security patrols along the Nepal-China border points to further choke the route for Tibetan refugees that seek to cross into freedom from Chinese rule. In September 30, 2006 Western climbers shot a footage of Chinese border police firing at Tibetans and killing a woman, crossing into Nepal.
Increasingly militarised borders and strict deportation practices, among other factors, have meant that the number of Tibetans crossing into exile has dwindled drastically over the years. According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, less than 50 Tibetans crossed into exile and reached Dharamshala, the exile seat of the Tibetan government in exile in the year 2017 while less than 10 have returned back to Tibet after fulfilling the extremely strict official vetting process.