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It’s plot against Olympics, China tells ‘friend’ India

Parliament, departs from its principle of not discussing another country’s internal affairs, expresses worries over the situation in Tibet.
None | By HT Correspondents/Agencies, New Delhi/beijing
UPDATED ON MAR 18, 2008 05:50 AM IST

Parliament on Monday departed from its principle of not discussing another country’s internal affairs, expressing strong worries over the situation in Tibet. Members in the Lok Sabha expressed fears of a possible violent crackdown by China on the protesters.

Beijing, under pressure from the international community to show restraint, however, asked its “Indian friends” to see what it described as a conspiracy to split the country and disrupt the Beijing Olympic Games.

Protests against Chinese rule continued in Lhasa and neighbouring provinces on Monday. At least eight people were killed after police fired on a rally led by monks in southwest China, activist groups said.

Dozens of students held a sit-down protest at a university for ethnic minorities in Beijing, bringing the demonstrations to the capital for the first time. Any student protest in Beijing is significant as it brings back memories of protests around Tiananmen Square in 1989, which were ruthlessly crushed by the military.

The current wave of protests, which broke out last week in Lhasa, is believed to have claimed dozens of lives though the official count given by China is much lower.

In Delhi, Lok Sabha members criticised China’s handling of the protests. Opposition members wanted the Centre to take a tough stand and urge the UN to intervene. Delhi should also join the international community in asking Beijing to show restraint, they said. 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.

Mukherjee said the government wanted the causes of trouble in the "autonomous region" of China to be resolved through dialogue and non-violent means.

Chinese Ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, while avoiding any comments on India's statement, urged the "Indian friends" to "see clearly the nature of those instigating and conspiring activities of the Dalai clique which aim at splitting China and disrupting Beijing Olympic Games."

Zhang told a select group of reporters that the "Dalai clique" comprised the "Dalai Lama and his supporters."

In the Lok Sabha, BJP's VK Malhotra alleged during Zero Hour that China was trying to "culturally finish" Tibet. His colleague Aditya Nath warned that unless stopped, China could extend its grip on Nepal – which would impact India's northeastern states. SP's Ramjilal Suman and BJD's B Mahtab wanted the Centre to clarify its stand and seek immediate UN intervention in Tibet.

There was no reference to whether or not the Dalai Lama should have commented on the issue since, as a spiritual leader, he is not expected to indulge in political activity on Indian soil.

Though the Lok Sabha does not in principle discuss internal matters of another country, there have been rare instances of it in the past.

In March 1960, the House adopted a resolution deploring the police firing in South Africa.

After the Speaker left it to the PM to make a statement, Jawaharlal Nehru had said that while the House should not discuss such matters, sometimes situations arose when rules were not adequate to deal with them. He later moved a resolution deploring the incident.

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