Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

India objects to 'Thank you, India' event; McLeod Ganj is new venue

Dalai Lama Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama
Theresa Hayes | 08 March, 2018, 15:58

"And the inter-faith prayer at Rajghat has been cancelled for now".

Amid reports of cancellation of celebrations to mark 60 years in exile of the Dalai Lama because of a government directive, the Tibetan government-in-exile has shifted one of the events to Dharamshala and cancelled the other one. "We welcome that because good bilateral ties between India and China will help the cause of Tibet", said Mr. Dagpo.

The Dalai Lama's "Thank You India" public event, on April 1, was the high point of a series of yearlong events planned by the Tibetan exile government.

The Tibetan government-in-exile will not hold two main events in New Delhi. Now the events will take place in Dharamshala.

Rights groups say there have been about 150 self-immolations by Tibetans in China since 2009, with the last reported case in December 2017. "It is not just the Dalai Lama, all Tibetan exiles should be able to return to their home", said Indian-born Tashi Tsering, who is head of the Taiwanese Tibetan Welfare Association.

While the Tibetan government-in-exile had put out a calendar of events for the year to observe "60 years in exile", it was not available on the website Monday night.

The spokesperson, however, didn't mention the note or the advice to the government.

"There were plans for speeches by the Dalai Lama and some of our Indian friends, from government, politics, academia and others, at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex".

Dagpa also added that there has been no communication from the Indian government to the Tibetan administration on this issue. "But that plan is now being re-worked", reads the quote from the statement issued by Tibetan administration official published in an English vernacular.

It has been learnt that Central Tibetan Administration has made a decision to shift the "Thank You India" event, which was chose to be held at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex on April 1, to Dharamshala. The Dalai Lama setup also intends to invite a number of Indian dignitaries.

The Indian government's move to avoid the events is seen as an effort to not anger China at a time when relations between the two countries are tense.

On Friday, the Indian Express reported that Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale first wrote to the cabinet secretary pointing to the sensitivity of relations with China. "Participation by senior leaders or government functionaries, either from the Central Government or State Governments, is not desirable, and should be discouraged". However, later the Ministry of External Affairs had categorically stated that there was no change in government's position and stand on the Dalai Lama. "If Tibetans begin feeling his approach is futile, it will lead to radicalisation", said a person familiar with the development. There is no change in that position. India allows him to pursue his religious activities in the country and to travel overseas.