While the younger generation of the Tibetan diaspora in the country is rejoicing over the landmark decision allowing them to cast votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, some elders are sceptical, as they think that giving them voting rights could dilute their half-a-century-old struggle to return to their homeland.
The Tibetans went into exile with their leader, the fourteenth Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, when China invaded Tibet’s capital Lhasa in 1959. They have now set up their own self-styled ‘government-in-exile’ and adopted many aspects of India’s political set-up. Their political head, the Sikyong (Prime Minister), is elected directly by exiles.
The decision to allow voting rights to Tibetans born in India between January 26, 1950 and July 1, 1987 is likely to benefit more than 12,000 people. An official of Tibetan government said it was “great relief” for the Tibetans.
“Some people think that as they have been born and brought up in India, they are not ‘homeless’,” he said, adding that he believed it would not dilute the struggle for Tibet’s freedom,” the official added.
Chogyal, 35, who runs a cyber cafe in Sanjauli, said that ‘Free Tibet’ struggle was the “legacy” of their elders. “Indian citizenship is a good thing, but our main motive should be to go back to Tibet. We were born and brought up here so we also should get the same rights as our Indian friends.