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Govt says ‘no change in position’ after report that it asked leaders to skip Dalai Lama events in China outreach

A media report said the government told “senior leaders” and “government functionaries” to skip events planned to mark the Dalai Lama’s 60 years in exile. The government later said there was no change in its position on the Tibetan spiritual leader.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2018 19:21 IST
Agencies, New Delhi
Dalai Lama,Tibet,China
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. (Shyam Sharma/HT File Photo)

The government said on Friday there was no change in its position on the Dalai Lama as it reacted to a report that said the Centre had told “senior leaders” and “government functionaries” to skip events planned to mark 60 years in exile for the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The Indian Express report said the step was a “reflection of India’s cautious approach towards Beijing as it embarks on the task of mending fences with its northern neighbour (China).”

Denying the report, ministry of external affairs said: “Government of India’s position on His Holiness the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. There is no change in that position. His Holiness is accorded all freedom to carry out his religious activities in India.”

According to the report, in February, foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale reportedly issued an official statement asking leaders to skip all functions of the Dalai Lama, seeking to be an embodiment of India’s commitment to mending ties with China.

The note was reportedly issued a day before the foreign secretary departed for Beijing to hold talks with China’s Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, Foreign Minister Wang and State Councillor Yang Jiechi.

Beijing detests the Dalai Lama, saying the Tibetan spiritual leader is trying to break Tibet away from Chinese control. The Dalai Lama, who insists he only wants more autonomy for Tibet, has lived in India since 1959, when he fled a crushed Tibetan uprising.

India has long had a wary relationship with China, seeing it as a strategic rival and a major trading partner.

Last year, Indian troops stopped China from building a road in Doklam, where the borders of China, India and Bhutan meet. In August, Beijing and New Delhi both agreed to pull back their troops from the area.

Beijing also strongly criticised New Delhi last year for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh.

First Published: Mar 02, 2018 15:34 IST