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India supports Dalai Lama’s struggle to return to Tibet: Union minister

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said, “You (Tibetans) are not refugees. Indians and Tibetans are spiritual cousins.”

punjab Updated: Apr 01, 2018 13:17 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama felicitates Naren Chandra Das, a soldier who was part of the group that received the leader at the border in 1959, at an event marking the beginning of the 60th year of the spiritual leader's exile in India, in Dharmsalaon Saturday.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama felicitates Naren Chandra Das, a soldier who was part of the group that received the leader at the border in 1959, at an event marking the beginning of the 60th year of the spiritual leader's exile in India, in Dharmsalaon Saturday.(AP)

The Tibetan government-in-exile on Saturday kicked off the year-long celebrations as part of the ‘Thank You India’ campaign to mark 60 years of the Dalai Lama’s arrival in India in 1959 after his escape from Lhasa.

Union minister of state for culture Mahesh Sharma, who was joined by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav at the event, extended support to the Tibetan cause.

“Refugee is not a right term for the Tibetans. Every one of them is a respected guest of India. Tibetans preserved the Indian culture. Our relationship is like flower and fragrance and considering this emotion the word ‘Thank You’ does not hold meaning,” Sharma said.

Ram Madhav said Tibetans and Indians share a spiritual bond. “India has always welcomed refugees with open arms and heart. We know what life is for a refugee. But you are not refugees. Indians and Tibetans are spiritual cousins,” he said expressing gratitude to the then Jawahar Lal Nehru-led government for providing asylum to the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The BJP leaders said though India endorses ‘One China’ policy, but its relation with Tibet is deeper, driven by religion and culture.

Wishing good luck to “Tibetan friends”, Madhav expressed hope that Tibetans will soon find it convenient to go back to their homeland. “For some people it took thousands of years. But I am optimistic that it will not take that long for you to be back home,” he said.

Addressing audience at the event, the 82-year-old spiritual leader, meanwhile, said being refugees Tibetans faced many problems, but have preserved their cultural and identity with the support of Indian government. “We have lived with a lot of self-confidence and holding values of humanity and brotherhood,” the Dalai Lama said.

He said that when he came to India he thought the two countries had the relationship of guru (teacher) and shishya (disciple) and that spirit was still present.

Naren Chandra Das, retired solider, who had received the Dalai Lama when he stepped onto Indian soil, was also present as a special guest.

TIBETAN LEADER SLAMS CHINA

Tibetan government-in-exile president of Lobsang Sangay expressed gratitude to the Indian government and people for giving shelter and support to Tibetans for 60 years. “His Holiness calls himself the son of India and we are the grandchildren,” he said.

Sangay slammed China and said, “Past 60 years were of destruction of Tibetan culture, religion and identity and exploitation of Tibetan resources by China.”

“But the Tibetan spirit has remained unbreakable and with resilience. They were able to revive their culture and identity,” he added.

The event, which was earlier planned in New Delhi, was shifted to Dharamshala after a note issued by the cabinet secretary advised Indian functionaries and political leaders to stay away from the events being organised by CTA and had cited ‘sensitive’ phase of the Indo-China ties.