Editing Rizal’s Jail Journal
In a talk program a year ago, I met Tek Nath Rizal, the Bhutanese human rights leader. The program titled “India’s Role in Refugee Problem” was marked by slim turn out and the late-arriving speakers. Nonetheless, a Maoist leader gave a fiery talk in which he instigated the Bhutanese refugees to take up arms against the monarch. “We ended the feudal monarchy in Nepal. Now, we should work for the same in Bhutan,” Maoist leader CP Gajurel had said: “The revolution must be launched in the very country. We’re ready to help. But, talking about it from exile and stressing on human rights issue will not help solve the problem.”
The audience seemed unsure of what to make up of this ‘revolutionary rhetoric’.
Then, it was Tek Nath Rizal who spoke in a soft, lilting voice which at times sounded like he was almost crying. Indeed, it was a cry for help. “It was India which helped Bhutan come out of its isolation,” Rizal had said: “So, it must play a positive role for our repatriation.” Dr. Anand Kumar, a professor from JNU (India) assured that the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society, after lobbying for the release of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi (Indeed, her husband late Michael Aris has left behind three books on Bhutan), would focus on Bhutan. These all then sounded quite optimistic. But, recalling them a year later, I feel that they were one of such sweet talks that yield nothing.