7 J. Refugee Stud. 378 (1994)
The Legal Condition of Refugees in India

handle is hein.journals/jrefst7 and id is 386 raw text is: Journal of Refugee Studies Vol. 7, No. 4 1994

SYMPOSIUM ON THE
HUMAN RIGHTS OF
REFUGEES
The Legal Condition of Refugees in India'
B. S. CHIMNI
InternationalLegal Studies Division, JawahadalNehru University, New Delhi
Introduction
In 1992 India was host to nearly 400,000 refugees from eight countries.2 The
largest group consisted of 181,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living in the southern
state of Tamil Nadu. Some 88,000 were living in government assisted camps,
while the remaining refugees were dispersed throughout Tamil Nadu, mostly
living with friends and relatives. The second largest group was the 100,000
Tibetan refugees who have been living in India for the last three decades. More
recent arrivals include an estimated 56,000 refugees from Bangladesh's
Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), living in camps in the state of Tripura. They
are primarily Buddhist Chakmas and other ethnic hill tribe minority groups
who fled harassment from Bangladesh security forces and Muslim settlers who
had moved into the relatively sparsely populated CHT from other severely
crowded regions of Bangladesh. In 1991 about 20,000 ethnic Nepalese refugees
from Bhutan fled to India in order to escape discrimination and human rights
abuses at the hands of Bhutan's ruling Buddhist Drupka group. Also, at the
end of 1992 the UNHCR was assisting 11,000 Afghan refugees in the New
Delhi area. Since 1992 the repatriation of Sri Lankan Tamils and Chakma
refugees, coupled with the departure of others, has considerably reduced the
number of refugees in India.3
'This article is an abridged version of a report written for the International Academy of
Comparative Law.
2US Committee for Refugees, World Refugee Survey (1993), p. 89.
3On 24th August, 1994 the Government stated in the Indian Parliament that a total of 232,182
refugees were now residing in India including 101,000 Sri Lankan Tamils, 80,000 Tibetans, 51,000
Chakmas and 182 refugees from Myanmar (The Times ofIndia, 25 August, 1994). These figures do
not take into account refugees assisted by UNHCR.

C Oxford University Press 1994

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