On northeast tour amid China’s threat, Dalai Lama recalls escape to India
On his first trip to the region after eight years, the Dalai Lama said he gets emotional when he revisits Assam and Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) as he enjoyed “freedom for the first time (here) and started a new chapter in life”.india Updated: Apr 01, 2017 20:36 IST
Amid fresh warnings by Beijing, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama began his 12-day tour of the northeast on Saturday and recalled his escape from Tibet to India 58 years ago.
On his first trip to the region after eight years, the Dalai Lama said he gets emotional when he revisits Assam and Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh) as he enjoyed “freedom for the first time (here) and started a new chapter in life”.
China has issued several warnings to India of deterioration in bilateral ties if the Dalai Lama is allowed to go ahead with his trip to Tawang. But New Delhi hasn’t paid much heed to the threats.
On his arrival at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi airport in Guwahati, the spiritual leader didn’t attach much importance to Beijing’s threats and said, “All these things are normal”.
The extremist United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) also issued a warning to the Dalai Lama earlier this week not to utter any anti-China statements from Assam’s soil.
The spiritual leader recollected how he and his followers entered India via Arunachal Pradesh in 1959 in a speech delivered at the concluding ceremony of The Assam Tribune’s platinum jubilee celebrations.
The 81-year-old recounted how he tried to control the situation in Lhasa after a huge demonstration took place on March 10, 1959, but with Chinese military involvement increasing “there was no other option but escape”.
He left Lhasa on March 17, 1959 “with great risk” to his life, but was still hopeful of resolving the issue after talks with Chinese officials on reaching South Tibet -- that hope was lost when China started bombarding Lhasa.
It took 15 days on foot for the Dalai Lama and his entourage of 20 people to dodge the Chinese and enter India on March 31 and take shelter at the Buddhist monastery in Tawang.
“I came to India in 1959 as a refugee. I have spent over 58 years as a guest of the Indian government. In a way I am their longest (staying) guest,” he joked as hundreds present in the audience applauded.
The spiritual leader will deliver an address in Gauhati University on Sunday and another one in Dibrugarh University the next day before heading to Tawang. He will end his trip at Itanagar on April 12.