Sino-India hotspot Tawang on Dalai Lama radar again | india | Hindustan Times
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Sino-India hotspot Tawang on Dalai Lama radar again

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is planning to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh that has been an irritant in Sino-Indian ties and recent reports have talked of troop build up on both sides of the border. Gaurav Bisht reports.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2009 00:55 IST
Gaurav Bisht

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is planning to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh that has been an irritant in Sino-Indian ties and recent reports have talked of troop build up on both sides of the border.

Last year, the Dalai Lama had to call off his visit to Tawang, home to one of the holiest Buddhist monasteries, after the ministry of external affairs denied him permission, reportedly under pressure from China.

China says Tawang historically has been a part of Tibet, so it should be included in its territory.

The Dalai Lama’s aides in Dharamsala confirmed that the 74-year old leader was scheduled to visit Arunachal in the second week of November.

“The Dalai Lama will visit Arunachal, but right now we cannot say anything about the places he is likely to tour,’’ Chimme Choekyappa, the leader’s private secretary, said.

The Tibetans, and the government too, would want to keep the visit low-profile as it is likely to upset China. Last year, the Tibetan leader had infuriated the Chinese when he said Tawang was part of India.

The ministry has given “preliminary” clearance to the visit, sources said. Documents in this regard have been sent to its liaison office here, but there is no mention of the places he will visit.

The Dalai Lama may visit Itanagar, Bomdilla and Tawang. In 1962 war, the Chinese had seized control of Tawang and Bomdilla but later withdrew.

A change of plan cannot be ruled out. “There could be changes in the tour programme,” Choekyappa said.

Last year, Arunachal Chief Minister Dorje Khandu, who hails from Tawang, had gone to Dharamsala to invite the Dalai Lama to inaugurate a hospital in the town.

The Tibetan leader has contributed Rs 2 million for the multi-specialty hospital. Khandu was keen on the hospital being inaugurated ahead of the assembly elections that have since been called. The state will go to the polls on October 13.

Tawang, where the sixth Dalai Lama was born, has a special place in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The current Dalai Lama, the 14th spiritual leader, had taken the Tawang route to flee Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against the Chinese.