While the state of Karnataka is gripped by the election fever, it is reported that the Indian state with largest number of Tibetan refugees does not seem to impact the Tibetans. It is reported that while there are a large number of Tibetans eligible to take part in the elections, they seem to have decided to continue retaining their refugee status rather than citizenship.
Periyapatna taluk administration under which fall the Tibetan settlements in Bylakuppe and Hunsur where a large number of Tibetan refugees live have not approached the administration to enroll for the election as voters and holds on to retain their refugee status despite being eligible for voting rights and citizenship.
“Until now, people of Tibetan origin born in India have not approached us for voter IDs. This is also because they have not taken citizenship, as a result of which there is no question of voting rights. Because of this, their identity status is still that of refugees,” said a senior official from the Periyapatna taluk administration according to the report in The Hindu on Thursday.
In the recent past, many Tibetans had participated in the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections that lead to the Indian authorities to later call for those Tibetans to surrender their Registration/Refugee Certificates granted by the Indian government to entitle them various refugee benefits.
The report while suggested that some Tibetans refrained from enrolling for elections in order to retain their refugee status, many others are still not clear about the fact. While some people do not understand the picture at the first place, some do understand what is required from their side to enroll themselves.
“According to official estimates, there are 11,037 Tibetans in the old settlement in Bylakuppe, 4,357 in the new one, and 2,206 in Gurupura, totalling up to over 17,500 persons. This number excludes monks. The Bylakuppe settlement, officials said, is the biggest in India. The Central Tibetan Administration lists five settlements in south India in all: the two in Bylakuppe, the one in Hunsur, and one each in Kollegal and Mundgod, with populations of 4,171 and 13,400 respectively.” added the report.