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Nepal's growing proximity with China raises concern for Tibetan govt

While China's strict measures is leading to decline in Tibetans escaping to India, there is growing concern over the Nepalese government shifting policy towards Tibetan settlers in the Himalayan country. Gaurav Bisht reports.

world Updated: Aug 18, 2010 21:14 IST
Gaurav Bisht

While China's strict measures is leading to decline in Tibetans escaping to India, there is growing concern over the Nepalese government shifting policy towards Tibetan settlers in the Himalayan country.

Nepal's growing proximity with China and shift in the policy is adding to the worries of Dalai Lama's, Tibetan -government- in- exile. "Overall situation in Nepal is disturbing for Tibetans refugee living in Nepal", Migyur Dorje, Cabinet Secretary of the Tibetan Government in exile told Hindustan Times. According to the Tibetan government officials more than 15000 Tibetans live in five different settlements in Nepal. The Tibetans crossing into Nepal from China administered Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) are being handed over to Chinese authorities.

In the recent times, three Tibetans who crossed into Nepal from Tibet at border town Dum were caught by the Nepalese police. They were detained and later handed over to Chinese immigration authorities. The two monks were identified as Dawa, 20, and Dorjee, 21, while the woman was a 22-year-old identified as Penpa. The unconfirmed reports at reaching the headquarters of Tibetan government in exile said that three Tibetans deported were flown back to Chinese border in a helicopter.

Washington-based Tibet advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) report claims that all the three Tibetans deported back from Nepal were jailed on reaching Tibet. Nepalese government latest move to deport the Tibetan escapees has raised hackles with Tibetan government in exile. "This is the first such case reported since 2003, when 18 Tibetans, some of them children, were detained by Nepalese police and handed over to Chinese authorities", said senior official in the Central Tibetan administration.

Nepal had, earlier during the Maoist coalition rule, closed down the Tibetan Reception Centre set up by Tibetan administration to facilitate Tibetan escapees.

Tibetan government officials at Dharamsala say that Nepalese government has sharpened its vigil on its borders with China, after the widespread protest in Tibet ahead of Beijing Olympics. The violent protest left many dead in Tibet. Both China and Tibetan government in exile made conflicting claims over the deaths in protest that started from Lhasa and spread to other regions dominated by ethnic Tibetans. China claims that 200 people died but the Tibetan government says more than 200 died and 1,000 were hurt.

Since the protest in March 2008 there has been sharp decline in numbers of Tibetan escapees to India. Before protest ahead of Beijing Olympics, about 2000 to 3000 Tibetans escaped annually to India for studies. "Chinese have sharpened their vigil, which is leading to fears amongst Tibetans in crossing the border", says Ngwang Norbu Director of Tibetan Reception Centre in Mcleodganj. Since February this year, only 700 Tibetans have arrived in Dharamsala. "Majority of the arrivals include monks and young boys", adds Ngwang, while adding that in coming months the number of escapees could witness more decline as he cites reports that Nepal and Chinese border security have signed an pact to stop " anti-china protest". Tibet's spiritual head who fled Lhasa in 1959 has set up numerous schools for education of exiles which draws Tibetans from China Administered Tibet.