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Dalai Lama's Aurnachal visit cleared

Last updated on: October 26, 2009 20:01 IST
Despite objections from China, New Delhi has cleared Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama's week-long visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which will take him to the 300-year-old Tawang monastery among other places, from November 8.

Showing a copy of the Union external affairs ministry's letter to mediapersons, the chairperson of the state level reception committee, T G Rinpoche, said on Monday that the ministry had cleared the visit on October 19 and it was conveyed to Itanagar the next day.

However, Rinpoche explained, the files containing the ministry's clearance were not handed over to Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu because of the model code of conduct in force for the assembly elections.

Also, letters signed by Monica Jain, director of the external affairs ministry, directing for adequate security arrangement were sent to the chief secretaries of West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, he said.

Khandu had told mediapersons on Sunday that the state had not received the clearance of the external affairs ministry, though the deputy commissioner of Tawang had received a communication in this regard from Dharamsala.

Rinpoche welcomed all, including devotees, interested to attend the Dalai Lama's discourses at Tawang from November 9 to 11, at Dirang on November 12, Bomdial on November 13 and Itanagar on November 14.

The Dalai Lama will leave from Dharamshala for Japan on October 29 and arrive in Guwahati on November 8 via Kolkata. He will leave for Tawang via a helicopter.

The state level committee and local committees are making arrangements for issue of inner-line permits for people coming from elsewhere in India and restricted area permits for foreigners.

The spiritual leader will deliver his discourses from Yidga Choszin Tawang where he will inaugurate a modern hospital for which he had donated Rs 20 lakh. This will be his fifth visit to the town since he fled Tibet in 1959 to India via the Tawang route.

He had visited the place in 1983, 1997 and 2003. Overall, this will be his sixth visit to the state. During a visit in 2003, he had skipped Tawang and went to the western side, dominated by the Mahayana sect Buddhists, and again to the eastern part inhabited by people belonging to the Theravagda sect.

Meanwhile, Rinpoche, a close aide of the Dalai Lama from Tawang, described the clearnce of the spiritual leader's visit to Arunachal Pradesh as a 'right step.'

"We treat the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of 'Avaloktaswara', the god of compassion, and even a glimpse of His Holiness purifies the soul which is the goal of every human being," he said.

''We have been holding mass prayers in the famed Gaden Namgyel Lhaste, commonly known as Tawang monastery, and in every household in the entire Mon region comprising three districts in western Arunachal since last one year for the clearance," Rinpoche, a monk turned politician, said.

Asked why China is objecting to the Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang and other parts of Arunachal, Rinpoche, a former minister and a firebrand Buddhist leader, said China was using it as a bargaining strategy to resolve border disputes.

Rinpoche had led monks of the Tawang monastery to take out a procession violating prohibitory orders to express solidarity with Tibetans across the border during last year's movement at Lhasa.

The Dalai Lama is not the issue at all and the Indian side should be very cautious while dealing with China on the border row as Chinese President Hu Jintao having worked as chairman of the Tibet Autonomus Region for over a decade has thorough knowledge of the Sino-India border, Rinpoche said.

The yellow and the cirmson-clad monk, who was seen doing the services with the Dalai Lama at a local gompa in Itanagar during his last visit in 2003, regretted that the Indian side, who are engaged in talks with China for solving the vexed border dispute, does not have any one having thorough knowledge of the border.

He said on one hand China refuses to honour the 1940 Shimla agreement between the British and Tibetan authorities on McMohan line and on the other claimed 90,000 square kilometres of territory that stretches beyond Arunachal Pradesh to the northern bank of the Brhamaputra in Assam which was once taken over by soldiers of the 33rd King of Tibet Songtsen Gompo.

"Once Mongolian soldiers had conquered China. But on the basis of that historical fact, can China be called a part of Mongolia now?" Rinpoche asked to drive home his point.

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