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Tibet burns, India feels heat

Several Lok Sabha members were vociferous in their condemnation of the Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protestors and demands that the Centre should also take a tough stand on the issue.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2008 04:37 IST
HT Correspondents

Several Lok Sabha members were vociferous in their condemnation of the Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protestors and demanded that the Centre should also take a tough stand on the issue, urge the UN to intervene and join the international community in asking Beijing to show restraint.

Disputing suggestions that the Centre was a mute spectator, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government has already reacted on the issue. He said the Centre has expressed “distress” over the “unsettled situation and violence” in Tibet and wanted the causes of trouble in the “autonomous region” of China to be resolved through dialogue and non-violent means.

The issue came up during Zero Hour. BJP’s VK Malhotra alleged that China was trying to “culturally finish” Tibet though its spiritual leader Dalai Lama has sought autonomy — and not separation — from Tibet.

His colleague Aditya Nath warned that unless stopped, China might extend its grip on Nepal, which would impact the northeastern states. There was no reference to whether or not the Dalai Lama should have commented on the issue since, as a spiritual person, he is not expected to indulge in political activity on Indian soil.

But parties did not refrain from taking a dig or two at each other.

MPs like Aditya Nath, without mentioning the CPM by name, wondered why some parties were silent on the Chinese developments.

And when Malhotra said he was not satisfied with Mukherjee’s statement, the Leader of the House shot back by recalling the BJP’s tenure. “What did they do when they were in power from 1998 to 2004? Or in 1977?” he asked, adding that India’s policy vis-a-vis Tibet has been consistent and remained the same no matter which government was in power.

The verbal duel continued even outside the House. Malhotra criticised the Centre’s “weak response” and the Left’s silence on the issue, the CPM said that the violence in Tibet was China’s internal affair.