Dalai Lama in Arunachal: India tells China not to interfere in its matters

New Delhi/Beijing, (IANS) India-China diplomatic tensions rose afresh over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, with New Delhi asserting on Tuesday that no political motive should be attributed to the visit and asked Beijing not to interfere in its internal affairs.

Beijing in a fresh salvo slammed the Dalai Lama as an “anti-China separatist” and attacked New Delhi indirectly for its support to the Tibetan leader.

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, said that no political motive should be attributed to Dalai Lama’s trip. “India has always been non-interfering in the neighbours’ internal affairs in our approach,” Rijiju told reporters in New Delhi. “In the same manner, we expect the same from our neighbours,” he said.

“When Dalai Lamaji is in Arunachal Pradesh, he will be confined only to religious matters. He is not there to make any political statement and he is not there with any political motive,” he said.

Rijiju, who is scheduled to go to Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday to meet the Dalai Lama, said India has never questioned China’s sovereignty and “has respectfully adhered to the one-China policy”.

“So we expect that China also should not interfere in our internal matters,” he stated.

His comment came as the Ministry of External Affairs said that the Dalai Lama has visited the state six times earlier and no “additional colour” should be given to his visit starting from April 5.

Reacting to the visit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry told Efe news: “The 14th Dalai Lama is an anti-China separatist who has long lived in exile following a failed armed rebellion by the reactionary group of high-ranking feudal serf owners in Tibet in March 1959.”

“The Chinese government is resolutely opposed to any country’s support and facilitation for the 14th Dalai group’s anti-China separatist activities,” read the statement without alluding directly to India.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama arrived by road in Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh, after inclement weather forced him to call off the scheduled visit by helicopter.

The Tibetan spiritual leader “arrived safely in Tenzingang Tibetan settlement, Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh”, the Tibetan Central Administration said in a statement.

In Bomdila, the Dalai Lama was received by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, and members of the Tibetan community.

BJP Chief Minister Khandu posted a tweet showing him meeting the Dalai Lama, and thanked him for deciding to travel by road to Tawang. “His Holiness @DalaiLama accorded warm welcome today at Thubchog Gatsel Ling Monastery, Bomdila. Blessed by his visit.” Khandu was accompanied by BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal.

From Bomdila he would visit Dirang, Lumla and Tawang during his over seven-day trip to Arunachal Pradesh.

Arunachal Pradesh holds a special significance for the Tibetan leader, as it was the first territory — then called the North East Frontier Region — in India he entered while fleeing Chinese troops in 1959 before moving to Dharamsala, where he now resides.

Asserting that Arunachal Pradesh is not a disputed territory, Rijiju said: “We have certain issues with regard to delineation of the boundary on the spots, on the ground along McMahon Line because it is not being demarcated on the ground. That is why there is a talk between the special representatives of India and China and the people of Arunachal Pradesh hope that an amicable solution can be reached in the foreseeable future time.”

China in March said ties with India would be hit if New Delhi allowed the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by Beijing as part of South Tibet.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said China was strictly opposed to the visit.

Geng said India knew the sensitivity of the border issue between both countries and allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh would damage its ties with China.

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