With rumours rife for a possible Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) protest across the border today and tomorrow, Bhutanese living in Jaigaon returned to Phuentsholing yesterday evening for safety.

Some families carried rations and clothes and entered Bhutan from the Chinese Lane gate.

While some came to stay in Phuentsholing, many came to inquire at the gates and returned.

Officials from both Bhutan and Jaigaon have confirmed that there would be no protest.

Director with the Department of Law and Order (DLO), Tashi Penjor, said they are in constant touch with the counterparts and there is nothing to worry about.

Police officials in Jaigaon also confirmed that there would be no protests.

Jaigaon’s officer-in-charge, Biraj Mukherjee, said that the social media post about the protest is not true. “We are in constant touch with politicians and leaders and there is no information about it.”

He said it is safe for Bhutanese living across the border and that people could continue their daily life.

However, Bhutanese people living in Jaigaon are still not convinced.

Dawa Zangmo, who stays in Gumbadara in Chinese Lane, said she wanted to shift to Phuentsholing if the protest news was true. “It is very confusing.”

Another Bhutanese living in Gopimohan, Arjun Chhetri, had even bought new kitchen utensils and other necessary items preparing for two days. “We heard the protest will happen but it is not sure,” he said.

He said that he kept the utensils at his office in Phuentsholing.

Although Phuentsholing thromde told them an arrangement is made, Arjun Chhetri said it would be difficult during emergencies. “It is better to come to Bhutan and stay away from the trouble.”

Meanwhile, DLO director Tashi Penjor said that a committee was formed to put up an action plan considering problems of Bhutanese living in Jaigaon. “We are still trying to reach to people.”

Drungkhag officials and police said that Bhutanese living across the border must remain in-doors and avoid getting involved for their own safety, should there be a protest.

In case of emergency, the thromde, police, immigration, Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) and drungkhag also initiated a control room to convey necessary information to alert people. Other logistics have also been planned.

Phuentsholing thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said that people were informed about the arrangements made should there be a protest.

The arrangements are made after the protest led by GJM supporters on July 30 turned violent as GJM supporters across the border took to the streets. Police had to use tear gases and rubber bullets to control the crowd.

About 5,000 Bhutanese live in Jaigaon.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing