Guard who escorted Dalai Lama in 1959 to be guest at ‘Thank You India’ event | india news | Hindustan Times
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Guard who escorted Dalai Lama in 1959 to be guest at ‘Thank You India’ event

In 1959, Naren Chandra Das and his colleagues were ordered to move to the international border to receive a special guest and bring him to India safely. They were instructed not to talk with the Dalai Lama, who was disguised as a soldier.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2018 23:00 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times, Dharamshala
Dalai Lama had met Naren Chandra Das for the first time in 58 years during the ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ river festival organised by the Assam government in 2017.
Dalai Lama had met Naren Chandra Das for the first time in 58 years during the ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ river festival organised by the Assam government in 2017. (PTI File Photo)

The last known survivor from among seven paramilitary troopers who received and escorted the Dalai Lama to safety when he stepped onto Indian soil on March 31, 1959, after a daring escape from Lhasa, is expected to be a special guest at an event commemorating the start of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s 60th year in exile.

Naren Chandra Das, a 79-year-old retired havildar of 5 Assam Rifles, is likely to be among the invitees to the event being organised by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) at McLeodganj near Dharamshala on March 31. The event will mark the year-long ‘Thank You India’ campaign.

“Naren Das will be one of the special guests to grace the occasion,” a person familiar with the matter said. CTA officials declined to confirm on record that he was on the guest list, saying the names of the invitees would be disclosed later.

The event is scheduled to begin with an inter-faith prayer presided over by the Dalai Lama at Rajghat in New Delhi on March 31, but the venue was changed to McLeodganj, the exile home of the Nobel Peace Laureate, after the Indian government directed officials at the Centre and state governments not to participate in the campaign in order to avoid provoking China, which considers him a separatist.

Das, who hails from Balipara in Sonitpur district of Assam, and his colleagues, led by their section commander, were ordered to move to the international border to receive a special guest and bring him to India safely. They were instructed not to talk with the Dalai Lama, who was disguised as a soldier. Das was then a rifleman.

The 82-year-old Buddhist spiritual leader had met Das for the first time in 58 years during the ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ river festival organised by the Assam government last year.

“Looking at your face, I now realise I must be very old too,” the Dalai Lama told Das at the emotional reunion.