The banned United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) has asked the Dalai Lama to refrain from making anti-China comments during his visit to Assam next month.
“If you want to visit Assam, we have a special condition. You will not make any personal or public comments against China from Assam’s soil,” outfit chairman Abhijeet Asom told the exiled Tibetan leader in an open letter.
“China and Assam are friendly neighbours who share long-standing linguistic and cultural ties. We will not tolerate it if you act as a spokesperson for Indian sentiments from Assam’s soil,” it added.
Despite Beijing expressing its displeasure, India has allowed the Dalai Lama to undertake a trip to Assam and Arunachal Pradesh from April 1. China has warned that the visit could affect ties between the two nations.
Indian intelligence agencies said ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Barua is currently based in China, and the outfit’s statement echoes the sentiments of his host nation.
The Dalai Lama will spend two days in Assam before departing for Arunachal Pradesh to visit the Tawang monastery. China claims a large part of Arunachal Pradesh as its territory.
The ULFA-I letter claimed that South Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) was under illegal occupation by India, and expressed resentment at the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit. “Your unwise decision to go to Tawang despite China’s objection is a cause of concern to us. It could lead to deterioration in ties, and if China’s limit of tolerance is breached, even result in a war-like situation,” it said.
The spiritual leader will arrive in Assam on April 1, and deliver a lecture in the state capital. The next day, he will participate in the state government-organised Namami Brahmaputra festival.
On April 3, the Dalai Lama will deliver another lecture at Dibrugarh University. He will then proceed to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, and end his trip at Itanagar on April 12.
Security has been beefed up in certain parts of Assam, amid reports that the ULFA-I could try to disrupt events attended by the Dalai Lama.