The South African granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi has regretted the government's decision to deny visa to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, as the country's leading newspapers termed the incident as 'shameful'.
In a letter published in the Sunday Tribue, Ela Gandhi, 69, a former MP for the ruling African National Conference, expressed regrets and reminded the country that "like Tibet, we were once oppressed."
In the letter, Gandhi, the daughter of Manilal Gandhi, berated the government's action and asked: "Why are they afraid of this gentle, peaceful man?"
"Is it because he towers so high morally and ethically that the Chinese are afraid of him?" she asked.
She said China's stature "would actually rise in the estimation of the world if it were to sit down and negotiate with His Holiness and the Tibetans".
Terming feudalism 'a thing of the past,' she wrote: "I respectfully ask the Chinese to be true comrades and face reality... People need territorial authority, human rights and justice".
Gandhi is the latest in a series of prominent people who have spoken strongly on the issue despite feverish attempts by the government to justify the action.
Meanwhile, leading newspapers in the country termed the incident as shameful and said the government had betrayed the country's ideals.