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Dalai Lama says Tibetans not asking for independence, can live with China

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama courted controversy by stating that Tibet is ready to be part of China provided Beijing agrees to guarantee certain rights.

SNS | New Delhi |

Two days after he triggered a major controversy by praising Muhammed Ali Jinnah over Jawaharlal Nehru, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama stoked a political flame by stating that Tibet is ready to be part of China provided Beijing agrees to guarantee certain rights.

Speaking at an event organised by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Bengaluru, the Dalai Lama said, “Tibetans are not asking for independence. We are okay with remaining with the People’s Republic of China, provided we have full rights to preserve our culture.”

At the “Thank You Karnataka” event, the 83-year-old Nobel Peace laureate said, “Several of Chinese citizens practicing Buddhism are keen on Tibetan Buddhism as it is considered scientific.”

Only two days ago, the 14th Dalai Lama enraged many by saying that India would not have been partitioned had Pakistan’s founding father Muhammed Ali Jinnah become the Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru.

During an interaction with students in Goa, the Dalai Lama said, “Mahatma Gandhi wanted to give the prime ministership to (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah. But Nehru refused. He was self-centred. He said, ‘I wanted to be Prime Minister’. India and Pakistan would have been united (had Jinnah been made Prime Minister at the time). Pandit Nehru was wise and experienced. But mistakes do happen.”

As his remarks triggered outrage, the Dalai Lama on Thursday tendered an apology. “My statement has created controversy, I apologise if I said something wrong,” he said.

“I had a close relationship with Nehru, who suggested having separate schools to preserve the Tibetan thought. He (Nehru) supported the Tibetans’ cause,” the 14th Dalai Lama said.

Born in Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognised at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. He fled to India from Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959.

China annexed Tibet in 1950, forcing thousands of Tibetans, including monks, to flee the mountain country and settle in India as refugees.

Since then, India has been home to over 100,000 Tibetans majorly settled in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh among other states.