Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh: Arriving in this border town to a rousing reception on a visit resented by China, the Dalai Lama on Sunday rebuffed Beijing for objecting to his trip to Arunachal Pradesh and expressed surprise over the Communist nation’s claims to Tawang, a revered seat of Buddhism.
The 74-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, who is visiting Arunachal Pradesh after six years—drawing international attention in the wake of Chinese protests—also rejected Beijing’s charge that he was encouraging a separatist movement by calling it baseless. The Nobel laureate characterized his “emotional” visit to Tawang, which has strong ties to Tibet, as non-political.
“It is totally baseless on the part of the Chinese Communist government to say that I am encouraging a separatist movement. My visit to Tawang is non-political and aimed at promoting universal brotherhood and nothing else,” he said.
In spotlight: The Dalai Lama arrives at the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday. Manish Swarup / AP
The Dalai Lama said the People’s Liberation Army of China had occupied Tawang and nearly reached Bom Dila during the Sino-India war in 1962.
“But the then Chinese government declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew (its forces). Now the Chinese have got different views. This is something which I really don’t know. I am a little bit surprised,” he said in a clear reference to Chinese claims over Tawang.
He was talking to newsmen after opening a museum at the 400-year-old Tawang monastery here.
China has strongly objected to the Dalai Lama’s visit and in recent days, it has stepped up rhetoric claiming Tawang and the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as part of that country.
He said there was no point in holding talks with China on the Tibet issue unless Beijing spells out its policy on it.
“It is quite usual for China to step up campaigning against me wherever I go,” he added.
The spiritual leader, who flew to Tawang from Guwahati on Sunday morning, was welcomed by cheering Tibetans as he drove along the 10km stretch from the helipad to the Tawang monastery, accompanied by Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Kandu.