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The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস

Ordeal of Indian tourists in Bhutan: India government ‘s intervention sought

Geetartha Pathak, Assam

Published: 23:44, 21 April 2024

Update: 23:51, 21 April 2024

Ordeal of Indian tourists in Bhutan: India government ‘s intervention sought

Indians neighbouring country -a tiny Himalayan constitutional kingdom draws interests from the tourists for it’s Himalayan topography , unique culture and political system. The country is known for its high happiness index and peaceful ambience.

However visiting this kingdom is not smooth as the country changed rules for the visitors frequently and for the visitors unfriendly attitudes of the immigration staffs. Visitors were earlier asked to show their voters identity cards and the authority refused to accept all other identity cards including Aadhar card, Press accreditation card, government issued other identity cards except passport. I myself has faced a tough time last year at Gelephu check gate as I didn’t bring the voters ID card. I showed aadhar cards, Press accreditation card issued by the Assam government. They even not accepted soft copy of my passport which was fortunately in my mobile phone. After long persuasion and at the intervention of a higher ranked Bhutanese officer. The whole episode consumed more than two hours. Interestingly I was accompanied by a Bangladeshi journalist with a valid SAARC country VISA. The authority took more than one hour to clear his entry.
The tiny Himalayan kingdom was closed for nearly one and half hear for outsiders after the pandemic. However the irony is that people from Bhutan side are visiting India without any intervention during those days also. It’s said that Bhutan is a India’s protectorate state. Therefore we must give them some leniency. But common man always question why Bhutanese are entering India without any check and Indians are facing regular harassment at checking posts, no stopping of cars , no frisking .
The same Bangladeshi journalist who did not face much hurdles in getting entry to Bhutan came to visit Bhutan after 7 months, but this time he was denied entry. They said that rules are now changed. According to new rule any valid VISS holder who come through India has to get an India Exit stamp from nearby Indian immigration post. My Bangladeshi journalist colleague this time went to visit Sandrup Jhangkhar,ba tiny township near Rangia Tamilpur route. There is a foreigners check post in Daranga in the Indian side. However the officers posted in the post said that they do not give any India exit stamp as there was no official order .
The Bangladeshi journalist requested them just to visit the town for one hour, but he was denied saying that they cannot bypass official order. Frustrated my friend came back all the way to Guwahati.
Bhutanese citizens have uninterrupted access to Indian land without any checking and registration. However Indians have to undergo through tough rules, notified identity cards and above all have to face rude behaviour of the Bhutanese security persons. Given the ecological vulnerability and population pressure from Indian side there should be some restriction on entry from Indian side . However that should be simple and flexible. The non cooperative attitude of the Bhutanese security forces and immigration officials should made an immediate issue by the government of India with its Bhutanese counterpart.