The Dalai Lama on Saturday began his 12-day visit of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh amid loud protests by China. He began his visit here by appealing to the younger generation to make the 21st century the “century of peace”.
“Unlike the 20th century, which was one of violence in which over 200 million people were killed, let the 21st century be one of peace, in which every man-made problem should be settled though dialogue. I particularly make this appeal to the younger generation to whom this century belongs, and whose responsibility it is to make this century one of peace,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said.
The Dalai Lama will attend a couple of more functions in Guwahati on Sunday. On Monday, he will deliver a talk in Dibrugarh before embarking on a nine-day tour of Arunachal Pradesh. He will consecrate a temple at Lumla on the India-China-Bhutan tri-juncture on April 4, and also take part in a series of religious discourses in Tawang, Dirang, Bomdila and Itanagar before returning to Himachal Pradesh on April 12.
China had earlier said that allowing the Tibet’s exiled leader to visit Arunachal by India will cause “serious damage” to bilateral ties and had asked New Delhi to make a “choice”.
In its second warning to India in a month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had said it was seriously concerned about India’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as part of south Tibet. Meantime, the anti-talk faction of ULFA, whose leader Paresh Barua is said to be holed up near the China border in Myanmar, had asked the Dalai Lama not to make any remarks against China during his visit to the region.
In Guwahati, the Dalai Lama preferred to remain mum on China’s renewed objection to his visit to Arunachal Pradesh. He, however, recalled his escape from Tibet way back in 1959, and described how he was received by Indian officials on the border in the Kameng sector of present-day Arunachal Pradesh, and how he continued to remain as the “longest guest” of India.
“First I came to India in 1956 to attend a religious function, and then in 1959 as a refugee. Since then I have been India, as the longest guest of the Indian government,” he said. He was speaking at a function to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of The Assam Tribune group of newspapers here.
He gave a vivid description of how he was waiting at the border in 1959 for a message from the Indian side until he was informed that India was ready to receive me.
“Then, when I received a message from Indian officials that India was ready to receive me, I came down, to continue to stay in India. Every time I visit these areas, the Tawang area, it is very emotional for me. I see a place where I had enjoyed freedom for the first time,” the Dalai Lama said.