NEW DELHI: India on Friday reasserted its rights to host ‘revered’ Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in Arunachal Pradesh, even as China has warned that it would cause “serious damage” to bilateral ties as it claims the region a disputed border region.
Ministry of External Affairs official on condition of anonymity insisted that there has been no change on the government’s position that “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is respected and revered spiritual leader” and as an “honoured guest” was free to travel to any part of India. Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Tawang, Itanagar and eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh from April 4 to April 13.
Dalai Lama has been in India home since his escape in 1959 much to the chagrin of China, which continues to term him as “wolf in monk’s clothing”. According to Buddhist traditions, the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated following his death. Even as Dalai Lama has hinted at doing away with the title after his death, the officially atheist Communists leaders of China insist on appointing his successor in the light of the right inherited from China’s emperors.
India so far has been hesitant in using the Tibetan Spiritual leader to send a strong message to China. However, Beijing continuous opposition to India’s national interests – energy security through entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and cripple Masood Azhar’s terror network by getting him onto the UN’s proscribed terrorist list.
Dalai Lama will be meeting the Indian government officials, including Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju during his visit to Tawang, reflecting its official backing. Rijiju himself hails from Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang on Friday said: “China is gravely concerned over information that India has granted permission to the Dalai to visit Arunachal Pradesh. China is strongly opposed to the Dalai visiting disputed areas.”
Tawang – the town on Indo-China border has been the bone of contention between the two countries, Beijing had earlier objected to Dalai Lama’s visit to town in 2009. Tawang that China claims to be part of the southern China has links to the history between the two countries as it was through its passes Dalai Lama had crossed over to India.