After an arbitrary census was held in Bhutan (1989), the government of Bhutan displaced approximately 100,000 Southern Bhutanese (Lhotshampas) out of Bhutan. There are several explanations for the expulsion/displacement as well as the conflict between the Lhotshampa and the Northern government, which a series of protests in the late 80s were held within the country against the government’s repressive ‘One Nation One People’ policy; illegalising Nepali/Lhotshampa cultural practices under the social code of conduct: Driglam Namzha.
After the initial civil unrest in 1991, thousands of Lhotshampa Bhutanese arrived at the border of Eastern Nepal from West Bengal, India by foot and trucks. By the mid-1990s these Bhutanese refugees had increased to the rough estimates of 100,000 individuals. As a response to the crisis after conflict with the continuously collapsing Nepali government, Bhutanese officials stated the Bhutanese refugees were, in fact, opportunistic economic migrants rather than vulnerable refugees they self-claim to be. Thus the Bhutanese government has not repatriated the refugees.