Govt Sends Note To Officials To Skip The Dalai Lama Event In Delhi; Know About It
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale sent out a note to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha who sent a directive to the Centre and states asking senior leaders and other government functionaries to skip events planned by the Tibetan government-in-exile to mark 60 years in exile of the Dalai Lama. Now the Tibetan government in-exile has decided to cancel its two main events which were to take place in New Delhi. The two scheduled events were – an interfaith prayer at Gandhi Samadhi in Rajghat on March 31 and a “Thank You India” at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex on April 1. Both were to be attended by the Dalai Lama.
“Thank You India” event shifted to Dharamsala
The Tibetan government in-exile had released a calendar of events to observe “60 Years in exile”. However, on the night of March 5 it was not available on the website. Sonam Dagpa, the spokesperson for Central Tibetan Administration said that the participation in Yoga Day, Swachh Bharat, tree-plantation and other events will take place as planned.
While confirming the news of moving the event to Dharamsala, Dagpa told The Indian Express, “The Thyagaraj stadium event has been shifted to Dharamsala now. And the interfaith prayer at Rajghat has been cancelled for now.”
He said, “India is host to Tibetan refugees. We respect the Indian government’s decision. We have no further comments.”
Dagpa also added that there has been no communication from the Indian government to the Tibetan administration on this issue.
The Tibetan government-in-exile had invited former PM Dr Manmohan Singh and BJP’s senior leader L K Advani. Dr Manmohan’s office said that he had declined the invitation and Advani did not express his consent either.
The Tibetan officials said they now have a low-key affair in Dharamsala. He added, “There were plans for speeches by the Dalai Lama and some of our Indian friends, from government, politics, academia and others, at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex. There was also a plan to gift a souvenir, a Dharmachakra, from the Tibetan administration to a representative of the Indian government, as an expression of our gratitude to the Indian government for hosting us for 60 years. But that plan is now being re-worked.”
Ngodup Dongchung, the representative of the Dalai Lama in Delhi, when asked if the community felt disappointed about this development, said, “Some people may be disappointed. But we are guests of India. Indian people have been very generous to us. We understand the compulsions.”
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s note to the Cabinet Secretary
In the note to the Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, Foreign Secretary Gokhale said, “We understand that this includes a large public event titled ‘Thank You India’ being organised at Thyagaraj Sports Complex in New Delhi on 1 April, 2018. The Dalai Lama setup also intends to invite a number of Indian dignitaries. These are likely to be followed up by additional events in Delhi as well as other states of India.”
He also said, “The proposed period will be a very sensitive time in the context of India’s relations with China. Participation by senior leaders or government functionaries, either from the Central Government or State Governments, is not desirable, and should be discouraged.”
Gokhale, who is a former Indian ambassador to Beijing requested Sinha “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”.
Few days after the notice was issued, The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India’s stand on the Dalai Lama is clear. “The 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,” the MEA spokesperson said.
It is widely speculated that the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh last year had provoked Beijing to take diplomatic and military moves that have affected the Indo-China relationship to a great extent.
Officials say Prime Minister Narendra Modi may visit Qingdao in China in June for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit. Reportedly, New Delhi is keen on resetting its relationships with Beijing in 2018.