'Dalai Lama not indulging in political activities'
In a veiled criticism of India's perceived soft approach towards China, Tempa Tsering, the Dalai Lama's official representative, has urged New Delhi to take a "holistic view" of the situation in Tibet and maintained that the Tibetan spiritual leader was not indulging in any political activities here.
"India has to take a holistic view of the situation in Tibet. India has done what it could do. But India has its own compulsions," Tsering told IANS in an interview.
Tsering, the Dalai Lama's envoy in New Delhi, also sought to dispel the impression that the Tibetan leader, who has been living in exile in the north Indian town of Dharamsala since 1959, was indulging in political activities in India.
"There are no political activities he or Tibetans are indulging in. He has been consistently espousing the Tibetan demand for genuine religious and cultural autonomy and the preservation of Tibetan identity," he said.
"These are not political activities," he stressed when asked about External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's recent remarks asking the Dalai Lama and his followers not to indulge in political activities that can affect India's ties with China.
He, however, refused to comment when asked whether Tibetans were disappointed with India's response to the reported Chinese crackdown on Tibetan protesters in Lhasa last month.
He also remained quiet when asked whether a planned meeting between the Dalai Lama and Vice-President Hamid Ansari in New Delhi last month was cancelled under alleged Chinese pressure. "We are thankful to India for all it has done," the Dalai Lama's envoy said.
When Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi rang up Mukherjee Wednesday, the latter assured him of the security of the Olympic torch relay through India and asked the Dalai Lama not to do anything to "hurt" its ties with China. Mukherjee also reiterated India's position that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of China.
"The Dalai Lama can stay here as India's honoured guest but he should not do anything that harms India's diplomatic ties with China," Mukherjee said while describing the Tibetan leader as "an honoured guest".
Rebutting the "Chinese propaganda" about bringing stability and prosperity to Tibet, Tsering said the riots in Lhasa were expressions of "spontaneous resentment and disaffection" against the Chinese policies.
"The Chinese have been saying that Tibetans are happy and prosperous. They have been saying there is an all-round development in Tibet. If it was so, this kind of protest would have never happened," Tsering said.
"This protest has effectively shattered China's claims and propaganda," he stressed.
"All that Tibetans are demanding are freedom and dignity. Why has China closed Tibet to media and tourists? Because there is something to hide," he said.
Stressing on the Dalai Lama's Middle Way to resolve the Tibetan issue that involves Beijing granting Tibetans genuine religious and cultural autonomy, he said Tibet is an ancient civilization with a recorded history of over 2,000 years.
When India's envoy to China Nirupama Rao was summoned past midnight by the Chinese foreign ministry to convey concerns about the infiltration of Tibetan protesters in the Chinese embassy, it struck a discordant note here.
However, the Indian foreign ministry did not react, giving rise to an impression in some quarters that India was being soft on China as it didn't want to risk its growing economic and strategic ties with Beijing.