Arunachal Pradesh is decked-up to welcome Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama who will set his foot in the picturesque north-eastern state today. His three-day visit has already evoked high decibel protests from China. Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang have been a bone of contention between India and China. The 81-year-old Noble Laureate had reached Guwahati on Saturday. Buddhist inhabitants of Tawang and West Kamang districts are eagerly waiting to seek blessings from him. According to this morning’s report, his visit has been delayed due to inclement weather.
The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Lumla, the Tawang Monastery and the Ngingmapa Monastery in Dirang. The local administration in these place has been busy giving a facelift to both of these districts, lawmakers Jambay Tashi (Lumla), Phurfa Tsering (Dirang) told the Arunachal Front.
Watch this video
Tawang is known as The Last Shangri La on Earth, but the monastery was adjudged one of the ‘seven wonders of India’ on March 30, 2009 via the Incredible India’ campaign of the Union Tourism Ministry. Arunachal, which is strategically positioned between Sarnath in Bihar, Lhasa in Tibet, Fulsiling in Bhutan and several South East Asian nations, can be developed as a Buddhist tourism hub of India. Sacred regions of Pemako in Upper Siang district, Tsari area of Upper Subansiri district and Motongsa in Nampong circle of Changlang district are equally important Buddhist pilgrimages.
It maybe recalled that the Dalai Lama was received at Khinzemane after he had escaped from Tibet in 1959. He had taken the Zemithang-Lumla route and stayed at globally famous Tawang Monastery or Galden Namgey Lhatse, seat of Mahayana sect of Buddhism. He had proceeded through Senge Jong, Bomdila, Chako and Assam foothills to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh to set up his headquarters from where Buddhism flourished and spread across the globe with renewed vigour.
The Tawang Monastery is 450 years old and has a 27-feet-tall imposing golden Buddha in meditating posture, built by Merak Lama Lodre Gyasto in 1680-1681 to fulfill wishes of 5th Dalai Lama. It is the second largest Buddha-related statue in the world after the one in Lhasa,Tibet.
As the Tibetan spiritual leader’s politically significant visit came specially at a time when India-China ties were a low ebb due to differences over a number of issues came, China proactively countered the Dalai Lama’s account of how he had to flee from Tibet due to military actions. India-China ties are currently bogged down over New Delhi’s objections over China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through PoK, Beijing blocking India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar.
China had said the Dalai Lama fled to India from Tibet in 1959 after a “failed armed rebellion”, rejecting the Tibetan spiritual leader’s 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 Chinese Foreign Ministry said reacting to his comments.
“His remarks which serve his anti-China separatist purpose have no trace of facts at all,” the Ministry told PTI in a written response to a query about his comments.
About his stay in India, it said, “the Chinese government is resolutely opposed to any country’s support and facilitation for the 14th Dalai group’s anti-China separatist activities”.
During his visit to Assam on April 1, the Tibetan Buddhist leader recalled that “On March 10, 1959, there were huge demonstrations in Lhasa”, the Tibetan region’s capital.
“Chinese military action also increased. I had no option but to escape. On March 17, I fled,” he said.
He said the warm-hearted welcome he received on his arrival at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh 58 years ago was a “moment of freedom” for him.
Chinese troops entered Tibet in October 1950 overcoming the resistance from the Tibetan army and later the Chinese control over the area was formalised in 1951.
The Dalai Lama fled from Tibet in 1959 and lived in India in exile since then.
Ahead of his visit to Tawang, China has sought to highlight the disputed status of the Tawang, located about 25 km close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
According to reports, the Tibetan spiritual leader is expected to stay in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as southern Tibet, till April 12 to attend religious engagements.
On April 1, China had asked India to exercise caution and restraint in its reported plan to connect Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as part of Tibet, with railway network saying that New Delhi should refrain from unilateral actions that might complicate the boundary issue.
“China’s position on eastern section of the China-India boundary is consistent and clear. At present, the two sides are working to resolve the territorial dispute through negotiation and consultation,” the Ministry said, reacting to reports that India is exploring feasibility to connect Sino-India border district Tawang with the railway network.
“The two sides have agreed that pending final settlement, both sides will work together to properly manage the dispute and preserve peace and stability of the border areas,” it said.
Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had warned India that the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as part of Tibet, will cause “serious damage” to bilateral ties and New Delhi has to make a “choice”.
India’s former ambassador to China Ashok Kantha said he is puzzled by the noise China is making over the Dalai Lama and Tawang.
“Pending a boundary settlement, the clear understanding since 1993 is that we will work on the basis of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The fact remains that Arunachal is on our side of the LAC,” Kantha, who retired as Indian envoy to China last year, was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post recently.
“We do not raise questions about Chinese movements in Aksai Chin (which China took control in 1962 war) even though we consider it to be part of our territory. So I do not understand when they complain about things we do on our side of the LAC. That is a departure from a fundamental agreement,” he said. the policy was clear, so that there were no hurdles.
Following this, senior officers were engaged in working on various options before the matter could be placed before the cabinet.
(With agency inputs)