Currently no Bhutanese in India nor from other countries has registered with the foreign ministry saying they want to return back to the country. The Bhutanese Embassies and missions in the respective states are keeping in touch with them.
An official from the ministry of foreign affairs said the Bhutanese are in touch through calls and texts and given the huge number of Bhutanese in India, it is very difficult to keep in touch now and then, but in times of need and difficulties, the contact numbers are all given, as to where they can contact.
The ministry estimates there are around 1,200 Bhutanese in India.
So far, the ministry has not received any information from the respective Bhutanese Embassies as normally, the ministry receives information from them on if there are people requesting to come back or if there are any other problems.
Since Delhi and Kolkata have weekly flights, so there are Bhutanese people coming back in the country and it is also difficult to track down how many are coming unless they are critical COVID-19 patients or other patients.
Also the Bhutanese people in India have not approached the ministry, so they are assuming that things are fine with them. However, if any difficulties are faced by them, they should immediately contact their nearest Bhutanese Embassy and that advice is already reflected in the official web page, said the official.
Last time those who returned were all officials from Bhutanese Embassy in Delhi and their family members and also a few guests who tested positive for COVID-19 and were in a serious condition. Given the situation in Delhi, with no vacant beds in the hospitals and shortage of oxygen, they had to be evacuated, the official said.
Right now it is just in India where the situation is getting intense, otherwise the Bhutanese in other parts of the world are doing fine. Many Bhutanese returned back during the first wave in India, and not many have gone back.
“So maybe that is one reason why the ministry is not receiving any request from the Bhutanese people,” said the official. There are few students enquiring about whether they can fly back to Bhutan.
Ugyen Choden who went to Bihar for her personal work before the second wave in India is stuck there as it is locked down. However, she said she is doing fine and following all the COVID-19 protocols. The place she is staying is very safe and no visitors are allowed, she said.
Upon asking whether she wants to return back, she said since she is doing fine and not having any problems being there, she will return after her work is done.
Similarly, Tenzin who works in Delhi said she is getting paid half the salary. She is doing fine but the situation in Delhi is worse than ever and no matter how careful she is with the safety protocols, she is worried that she might get infected. For now she has no plans to return back as it is not safe to travel.
Students who were on semester break last year are still in the country and continuing their studies through online classes.