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Tibetans begin ‘Thank You India’ event on Saturday

Mood sombre after Centre’s advice to senior leaders, officials to stay away in view of Indo-China ties

Written by Ashwani Sharma | Mcleodganj (dharamshala) | Updated: March 30, 2018 11:46:38 pm
Tibetans begin ‘Thank You India’ today Preparations underway for the programme at Dalai Lama temple in Mcleodganj, Dharamshal, Friday. (Express photo by Pradeep Kumar)

With just hours left for “Thank You India” event which begins here Saturday morning, the mood at Tsuglagkhang temple, His Holiness Dalai Lama’s residence, is sombre yet expectant.

The year-long event has been planned by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile headquartered here, to mark 60 years of the Dalai Lama’s arrival in India.

As reported by The Indian Express, The Centre had recently issued an advisory asking senior leaders and government functionaries to avoid attending functions organised by Tibetans living here in exile, citing the “sensitive” phase of Indo-China ties. This has led to some disappointment in the Tibetan community. The venue, which was initially planned to be in Delhi, was shifted here.

On Friday, the mood was predictably sombre at the venue. Inside the main Buddhist temple, where preparations were underway, over two dozen Lamas, young and old, were busy performing rituals even as hundreds of tourists watched them with folded hands and heads bowed in reverence to a large statue of Lord Buddha. “I am not going to tell you how many representatives from the Indian government will attend the event. You wait their arrivals at Gaggal (Kangra) airport on Saturday morning. It will be clear, said a top CTA functionary.

BJP sources confirmed that Union Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma would attend the event. So will senior BJP leader Ram Madhav.

Senior BJP leader and Kangra MP Shanta Kumar will also attend the function which will be graced by the Dalai Lama, who arrived here only last week after his engagements in India and abroad.

“I will be present in the event. As per my informal discussions with the top BJP leadership and Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, it should not be a problem to attend it,” Shanta Kumar said.

Local Tibetans sought to play down on the Centre’s advisory. “We are grateful to Indians for giving us shelter and support during the past 60 years, ever since His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived. Thus, in this event, we have ensured the presence of Naren Chandra Das, the 79-year-old man retired Havaldar of 5 Assam Rifles who had received the Dalai Lama when he entered the Indian soil in 1959,” said a monk.

Top RSS leader Indresh Kumar was in Dharamshala till Wednesday and was understood to have held talks with CTA functionaries relating to the event.

CTA president Losang Sangay praised the Indian leadership for providing support to the Tibetan cause and their stay in the country. “Tibet is inextricably linked to India through geography, history, culture, and spiritually. We will remain always thankful.”

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