Who are Gorkhas and how they are different from Nepali citizens who are living in India?

Reasons for being in news

Recently Home Ministry issued a communication citing a 1950 treaty between India and Nepal, and stated that Gorkhas living in India cannot be referred to Foreigners Tribunals in Assam.


(detailed explanation not according to the parameters of word limit)

Gorkhas (or Gurkhas) are Nepali-origin people who take their name from the 8th-century Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath and from the Nepal hill town of Gorkha. In India, the word is sometimes used to make a distinction between Indian Gorkhas, who are citizens of India, and Nepali citizens who are living in India.

Most of them are descendants of Gorkhas settled in India during British rule. The British Army had raised several Gorkha units in India. After Independence and Partition, six regiments from the British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas were transferred to the Indian Army under a Tripartite Agreement (1947) among the British, India and Nepal. In a notification issued on August 23, 1988, the Home Ministry clarified that Gorkhas domiciled in India at the the time of commencement of the Constitution, and those born in India, or born to one or both parents born in India, are citizens of India. West Bengal has the highest number of Nepali-speaking citizens, and Sikkim the highest density.

Nepali citizens living in India are migrants legally living in the country. According to the External Affairs Ministry, nearly 6 million Nepali citizens live and work in India. The Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1950) permits, “on a reciprocal basis, the nationals of one country in the territories of the other the same privileges in the matter of residence, ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce, movement and other privileges of a similar nature”.

The Indian Gorkhas of Assam are eligible for inclusion in the Assam NRC, by virtue of being Indian citizens. The Nepali citizens are not eligible for inclusion, although they are legal migrants and the 1950 treaty protects them from referral to a Foreigners Tribunal.