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Home > India > News > PTI

Arunachal CM invites Dalai Lama to Tawang

April 11, 2008 00:34 IST

In what could raise the hackles of China, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama [Images] has been invited to inaugurate a hospital at Tawang.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, who is a Buddhist hailing from Tawang, told PTI that construction of the Rs 3.45-crore hospital is complete and the Dalai was invited to inaugurate the hospital. He said that the Dalai Lama had been invited before the Tibet agitation started.

However, the chief minister said that he was afraid the External Affairs Ministry may not give permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang.

The ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party differ on whether the Dalai Lama should be allowed to travel to Arunachal Pradesh, after the unrest in Tibet [Images].

BJP Lok Sabha member from Arunachal (West) Kiren Rijiju, also a Buddhist, said the Dalai Lama is basically a spiritual leader and the Indian government should not impose any ban on his entry in Tawang for inaugurating a hospital.

The importance of the Dalai Lama's possible visit to Tawang could be assessed from the fact that the spiritual leader, after the failed uprising against the Chinese, had taken the Tawang route to flee to India in 1959.

Secondly, in the 1962 war, the Chinese army had captured Tawang and came up to Bomdila. The Red Army later withdrew.

However, Rijiju, who is the coordinator of the All Party Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, agrees with the chief minister's stand that Buddhist communities should not be allowed to come out on the streets of Tawang or any other part of the border state, in support of Tibetans.

Arunachal Pradesh is passing through a difficult period and none should be allowed to aggravate the situation, he said.

Khandu said that he has advised the local people to pray for the Tibetans inside the 400-year old monastery, the second largest in Asia after Lhasa, housing 500 monks.

The BJP MP said that people in other parts of the country should, however, openly agitate in support of the Tibetans as India was directly affected by the influx of Tibetans. He is planning to lead the protests by Tibetans when the Olympic torch arrives in New Delhi on April 17.

China has been claiming Arunachal Pradesh, including Tawang, the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, as its territory but India rejected the claim and asserted that the state was an integral part of its territory.

© Copyright 2008 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.