Dalai Lama draws support for Tibetan ‘freedom’ in Leh even as India-China ties sour over Doka La

Srinagar: Followers of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama have once again pledged their support to the cause to "free" Tibet from "Chinese occupation". Dalai Lama who has been on over a month long visit to the Leh area of Jammu and Kashmir received support from the people at a religious gathering in the state.

Even though Dalai Lama has been visiting Leh for many years now, during the current visit, which began on 28 June, a series of discussions were held on Buddhism in the Nobra Valley of the region, where people pledged support to "free" Tibet from Chinese "occupation".

 Dalai Lama draws support for Tibetan ‘freedom’ in Leh even as India-China ties sour over Doka La

File image of Dalai Lama. Reuters

Dalai Lama has repeatedly emerged as a sour topic in the India-China relations. Earlier, Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh had triggered a controversy with China stating that this could vitiate the relations with India. China even described Dalai Lama as "disgraceful".

Miffed with India's support to Dalai Lama, China recently offered a mediation on Kashmir as Indian and Pakistani troops pounded each other’s position along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, resulting in heavy loss of civilian lives and armed forces personnel, and damage to private and public property.

The visit has come at a time when India and China are locked in a stand-off over Doka La area in Sikkim, and in the backdrop of repeated incursions by Chinese troops in Ladakh.

Dalai Lama's visit is also significant because Chinese incursions along Demchok in Leh have halted several developmental works in the region. However, this is not the first instance as incursions by the Chinese troops have taken place in the past as well along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) whose demarcation has not been agreed to by the two sides.

Though political leaders from Congress vowed to support the cause of freedom for Tibet and reiterated that China was committing excesses on Tibetans, Member Parliament of Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Dhondup Tashi, said that the stated position of Dalai Lama has been that a "middle ground could be reached" through dialogue on the Tibetan issue.

Tashi also stated that the Chinese accusation against Dalai Lama were false as he had visited Arunachal Pradesh on the invitation of the Buddhist devotees in the state. His visit was consented to by the Indian government.

"Dalai Lama is the spiritual head of Buddhists and visits different parts of the world on the invitation of the Tibetans," he said, adding further that "the position of the Tibetan parliament in Exile has been that the Tibet was occupied by China and there has to be a settlement of the issue".

Tashi, however, accused China of having a belligerent approach on Tibet stating that China is not ready to talk to Dalai Lama.

Congress MLA from Nubra, Deldan Namgayal, in whose constituency the Buddhist conference was held, said that the people have pledged support for the Tibetan cause. "China is committing atrocities on people in Tibet. Dalai Lama is our religious spiritual head and he was here for religious preaching. He visits every year and it was a programme of religious ceremonies," he said.

Namgayal, however, said that there is a recurring dispute over grazing pastures along some areas in Leh as the nomads from India and Chinese side remain settled in Demchok and are protected by the Indian and Chinese troops respectively. "From the Indian side, the nomads come from the Changathan Valley which shares border with China and they move to Demchok in summer months due to thick pastures."

The Congress MLA also alleged that China has gone to the extent of murdering the Tibetan population. "Tibetan’s have their own government in exile and they are demanding freedom of Tibet. Many people have been brutally murdered by the Chinese," he said.

Dorjay Motup, executive councilor, works, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), said that due to the hostilities along the LAC in Demchok, many of the developmental works have taken a hit. "The work over a medical sub centre has been stopped midway. Work also couldn’t be started on the irrigation bridges," said Motup.

Tashi said that though the Sikkim issue was not linked to the overall Tibetan cause, but Tibetans in Exile consider Sikkim to be part of India. "Tibetan political issue has nothing to do with Sikkim, but the way we look at it, Sikkim is one of the parts and soils of India. Sikkim is India and India is Sikkim. China is raising every issue every day," he said adding that Dalai Lama had visited the Indian soil and not the Chinese soil and there should have been no problem for China on his visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

Dalai Lama's visit to Leh will culminate on 2 August.

Updated Date: Jul 19, 2017 21:54:38 IST