The Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Darjeeling Chapter, will be organising a memorial prayer service for martyr Dhendup Phunstok on April 18 in Darjeeling, West Bengal. This 26 year old Tibetan youth had quietly jumped off the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata late on April 2 night, following the footstep of his brethren setting themselves ablaze crying “Free Tibet.”
Though the act of self emolution by fellow Tibetan Jamphel Yeshi on March 26 in New Delhi had hit the headlines, Phuntsok’s act of self sacrifice was a more subdued affair. After he had gone missing, his mother Dechen Dolma and Dhendup's friends had gone looking for him.
On 6th April morning his body was finished out of the Ganga. He was found wearing a "FREE TIBET" T-shirt. Born in Darjeeling, Dehndup and his family had moved to Kolkata. He was an alumni of Assembly of God Church (Class of 1999) and Scottish Church College (2006.) He was also the Coordinator of the “Students for Free Tibet.” “With news of his death we had planned to go to Kolkata to attend his lat rites. We even wanted to organise candle light vigils in his memory. He is a martyr. However the family has requested us to keep things on a low key note (just as Phuntsok would have wanted)” stated Tashi Dhondup, President, RTYC, Darjeeling Chapter. “The special prayer service to be held at the Tibetan Welfare Office premises in Darjeeling on April 18 will be attended by the martyr’s family members also” added Diki Dolkar, Vice President, RTYC, Darjeeling Chapter.
“Dhendup came across to me as a spirited young man who was willing to do anything for Tibet. He used to often message me or call me discussing with me how to better spread the word about Tibet among Indian community” said Tenzin Tsundue, President of Regional Tibetan youth Congress, talking to HT from Dharmasala. The RTYC organised a special prayer service and candle light vigil in Dharmasala.
RTYC Vice President Tsering Yangchen said: “After 33 cases of self immolations against Chinese brutal occupation of Tibet, Dhendup Phuntsok sacrificed his life by drowning himself into the Ganga river. Though we are grieved by his death, his sacrifice for the country's freedom make all of us proud”. Moved by Jhampel Yeshi’s act of self emolution, Phuntsok’s decision to follow in Yeshi’s footsteps was not a spur of the moment decision. Pictures uploaded by him on a social network on March 29th and March 30th , show him on the Howrah Bridge and on the Jetty captioned “At the River Ganges or Ganga in Kolkata waiting for my sail.”
Phuntsok in his last ever speech, delivered on March 10, 2012 at Kalamadir in Kolkata, commemorating the Tibetan uprisisng day had stated “We are not at war with our great neighbour china, we bear no hatred nor nourish any ill feeling for our brothers and sisters in our eastern borders, Our is not a mere Sino Tibetans conflicts or an ideological warfare, let me make this clear our struggle for freedom is not an act of conflicts or secessions as is projected by the chinese infact our's is also not a fight against the chinese people. But we are against the illegal occupation of our territory and colonization of the land that belongs to the TIBETANS……”