Dalai Lama's Tawang visit postponed to 6 April; MoS Kiren Rijiju tells China to respect India's sovereignty

The Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh has been put off by two days due to bad weather, according to media reports. The Dalai Lama was to leave for Tawang on Tuesday after visiting Assam. He is now expected to reach Tawang, home to one of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries, on 6 April. Last month, China warned of "severe damage" to relations with India and increased regional instability if the Dalai Lama proceeds with his trip to the state. To this, Dalai Lama told The Times of India that it was normal and he had no problem if China objected to his visit.

On Tuesday, India said that the Tibetan spiritual leader has visited the state six times earlier and no "additional colour" should be given to his visit. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, holding a press conference, said, "India has never interfered in internal affairs of China. We never questioned their sovereignty. We respected their 'One China' policy. So we expect China to respect our sovereignty. We are a free country, we cannot restrict flow of religious leaders."

According to a report in Hindustan Times, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader was to arrive at Lumla, near Tawang on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am, but his helicopter couldn't take off because of heavy rain in Guwahati. The 81-year-old is now travelling by road. Bomdila, which is 180 kilometres away from Tawang, will be his first stop, Hindustan Times reported.

"Whenever I come to the North East of India, it feels like a reunion with people here," the Dalai Lama said on Saturday, "When I revisit Tawang, I am reminded of the freedom that I had experienced for the first time (in 1959). That was the beginning of a new chapter in my life."

The Dalai Lama is scheduled to consecrate a temple and give blessings to his followers during his week-long stay in Arunachal Pradesh.


The Indian Express reported that members of the Tibetan refugee community and residents of Bomdila were cleaning up the roads in anticipation of his visit. Tawang Monastery, where the Dalai Lama is expected to stay, has been decorated with religious flags and coloured clothes with mantras inscribed on them. 800 monks will welcome their spiritual leader in the 400-year-old monastery, India's largest.

According to a report in the The Financial Express, the Dalai Lama is also slated to visit the Ngingmapa Monastery and the local authorities have been busy making improvements.

Dalai Lama passed through this region when he fled into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising against Communist rule over Tibet. Moreover, the sixth Dalai Lama was born there in the 17th century. The government-in-exile is based at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. It is not recognised by any country.

The Dalai Lama last visited Arunachal Pradesh in 2009. China protested against that trip, but there was no major impact on relations with India. China has, once again, protested his visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which it considers a disputed territory.

File image of Dalai Lama. AFP

File image of Dalai Lama. AFP

On Sunday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India from Tibet after a "failed armed rebellion." China rejected his remarks that he had no other option but to escape due to increased Chinese military action. "As it is known to all, the 14th Dalai Lama is an anti-China separatist who have long lived in exile following a failed armed rebellion by the reactionary group of high-ranking feudal serf-owners in Tibet in March 1959," the statement said.

In a press conference on 31 March, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang expressed concerns on the Dalai Lama's visit, calling China's position on the issue of the eastern part of China-India border clear-cut and consistent. "India is very clear about the seriousness of issues related to the 14th Dalai Lama and the sensitivity of its border issues with China. Under such circumstances, India still invites the 14th Dalai Lama to visit disputed areas of China-India borders. This will gravely damage the peace and stability of the border regions between China and India and China-India relations," Kang said.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Rijiju, in his press conference, also added, "The status of Arunachal Pradesh as a full-fledged state of the Union of India is indisputable. The people of Arunachal Pradesh are upset at others showing that Arunachal Pradesh is a disputed territory. The people of Arunachal Pradesh  are looking forward to cooperation from China. When Dalai Lama ji is in Arunachal Pradesh, he will be confined to religious matters. He is not there to make any political statement or with any political motive. We appeal to China not to rake up this issue."

Rijiju also stated that the Arunachal Pradesh government accorded the Dalai Lama the status of a guest and all the facilities were being arranged by the government. Striking a more personal tone, Rijiju added, "The Dalai Lama is coming to my village. If someone comes to my home it becomes my duty to welcome him."

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 13:56 PM

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