Refugees in the news

Refugees in the news

Children of Tibetan Refugees are eligible to vote for the first time in India

NEW DELHI: It's a usual day at the colourful Tibetan colony aligning Ring Road near Majnu ka Tila, tucked away in a corner far from the election buzz. But Tibetans living here, and across India, are now acquiring a new identity. Following a court order, all Tibetans born in India between 1950 and 1987 will be eligible to vote for the first time during this Lok Sabha elections.

Most of those living in this mini Tibet in the capital see this as a document that will add to their sense of safety and a right that they can use when faced with discrimination and hostility.

In keeping with the Election Commission of India (EC) guidelines, the office of the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Delhi is verifying the applications, said CEO Vijay Dev. The enrollment requires a mandatory proof of birth showing that they were born between 1950 and 1987 in India. There are an estimated 1.20 lakh Tibetan refugees in India. EC has ordered all states to include children of Tibetan refugees in the electoral list.

Migmar Rautela, in her 20s, says she was born in Himachal but brought up and educated in Delhi. She lives in Mehrauli with her husband Amit Rautela. All her life she has lived with her Tibetan roots in a land where she had no identity. "I have no interest in politics and have never thought about it but yes this gives me a document of identity and if my husband decides to vote, I too will go and vote," she said.

Migmar Tserng (46) is born and brought up in Delhi. "I have applied for a voter card but most like me are not interested in BJP, Congress or AAP. We have been treated well in India but still at the end of the day we are not considered part of this country. The voter card will give us an identity to prevent discrimination," he said.

Others like him feel that getting voting rights is good but discrimination has to end first. Some point out that despite good education, young Tibetans fail to find jobs in Delhi and elsewhere when employers discover that they are from refugee families. "We must get the facilities and services available to others to ensure our children have a good future," Tserng said.

The EC move comes in the wake of an August 2013 Karnataka high court order that paved the way for granting Indian citizenship to Tibetan refugees.


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