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Tibetan Admin Cancels Dalai Lama’s Event After Govt Note: Report

India’s move could be an attempt to placate China & mend ties with the country after the Doklam stand-off last year.

Updated
India
3 min read
Image used for representational purposes. 
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The Tibetan government-in-exile has cancelled one of two events in New Delhi, planned to commemorate 60 years of the Dalai Lama in exile, The Indian Express reported on 6 March.

While the inter-faith prayer at the Gandhi Samadhi in Rajghat, scheduled for 31 March, has been cancelled for now, the ‘Thank You India’ event, scheduled to be held on 1 April, has been moved to a venue in Dharamsala.

The change in schedule comes almost a week after reports that the Indian government had asked its officials to skip the Tibetan government’s Dalai Lama events, citing “sensitive” ties with China.

In its 6 March report, the daily quoted Sonam Dagpo, spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration, as saying that the there had been no communication from the Indian government to the Tibetan administration on this issue in this regard. As per the report, the Tibetan administration had planned to invite former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Minister of State (Home) Kiren Rijiju among others for the two events to mark the leader’s 60 years in exile.

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India’s Move An Attempt to Mend Strained Ties With China

The MEA, on 2 March, stated that its stance on the Dalai Lama had not changed, in response to reports that the government intended to skip the events planned to commemorate the religious leader’s 60 years in exile. In a statement, the MEA said: Government of India’s position on His Holiness the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. There is no change in that position. His Holiness is accorded all freedom to carry out his religious activities in India.

According to 2 March report in The Indian Express, Foreign Secretary Gokhale requested Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha in a note to the effect dated 22 February to issue a “classified circular advisory advising all Ministries/Departments of Government of India as well as State Governments not to accept any invitation or to participate in the proposed commemorative events.”

In his note, Sinha said participation in these events “should be discouraged” and “accordingly, you are requested to ensure appropriate action in the matter”.

A former Indian ambassador to Beijing, Gokhale reiterated that the proposed period will be a very sensitive time in the context of India’s relations with China.

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The note, accessed by the The Indian Express, came ahead of Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale's February visit to Beijing to hold a bilateral dialogue, the first after the Dokalam standoff last year.

During his visit, Gokhale, who has in the past served as India's Ambassador to China, held talks with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou.

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India at Bay: Is it the First Time?

According The Indian Express, the Indian government had avoided attending a function organised by the Tibetian authorities in 2009 as well, when they were commemorating 50 years in exile.

Ties between India and China hit a roadblock when the Dalai Lama visited Arunachal Pradesh in April last year and was personally achieved by state chief minister Pema Khandu as well as MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju.

(With inputs from Indian Express)

(The story has been updated to reflect the cancellation of the event.)

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