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Visiting Dalai Lama? Go by the book

Free access: The Dalai Lama greeting children in Dharamsala in May.

Free access: The Dalai Lama greeting children in Dharamsala in May.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Centre plans policy as India doesn’t wish to antagonise Chinese monks or compromise on security

The Centre is devising a policy for Chinese Buddhist monks who wish to meet the Dalai Lama in India. The move follows several instances when Chinese monks have come to India via the porous Nepal border without proper documents, putting security agencies in a fix.

A senior government official familiar with the development, said a cogent policy had to be put in place as India did not wish to antagonise the Chinese monks nor compromise on “national security”.

Threat perception

The official explained that such guests could also pose a threat to the safety of the Dalai Lama.

Towards the March-end, nine Chinese monks reached Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh — the Dalai Lama’s base in India.

Their arrival caused considerable consternation among the security agencies. Following a report by Intelligence agencies, the Union Home Ministry ordered a probe and the Himachal Pradesh police have been asked to investigate.

“During investigation it was found that eight of the nine monks had proper documents and valid visa. But the incident led to a thinking in the government that a policy has to be in place for such visitors and it cannot be left in the grey zone,” another official said.

The nine monks arrived in India soon after the Centre cancelled two Tibetan events scheduled in Delhi. On March 2, an inter-faith meeting planned at the Rajghat on March 31 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet, was cancelled. Later, a rally by Tibetans in Delhi on April 1 was moved to Dharamshala after the Centre conveyed its concern over the impact on China ties.

Ahead of meeting

The events were cancelled to keep bilateral tensions at bay in view of an “informal summit” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in April.

By norms, any Chinese monk or Tibetan refugee has to register with the Tibet reception centres in Delhi, Dharamsala or Kathmandu, if they wish to visit the Dalai Lama’s headquarters.

“On many occasions, fearing a backlash once they return to China, the Tibetan monks travel first to Nepal and enter India through the porous border. They don’t want to leave any paper trail,” the official said. He said India could not shut its doors on such visitors, nor can it allow them without any checks as it could have huge security implications.

According to the Home Ministry, there are approximately 1.1 lakh Tibetan refugees residing in and outside 45 settlements in different parts of the country. China refers to the Dalai Lama as a “separatist leader” and has accused India of fuelling tensions when the Dalai Lama visited Arunachal Pradesh last year.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 2:25:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/visiting-dalai-lama-go-by-the-book/article24073663.ece

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