Even as China fumed over the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, India today refused to budge from its stand that the Tibetan spiritual leader was free to go anywhere in India, underlining that no ‘artificial controversy’ should be created around his trip to the North-eastern state.
"The government has clearly stated on several occasions that HHDL (His Holiness the Dalai Lama) is a revered religious leader, who is deeply respected as such by the Indian people," the MEA said as the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal threatened to snowball into a major issue in Sino-Indian relations in the backdrop of a host of unhealthy developments in their ties in recent months.
Emphasising that ‘’no additional colour’’ should be ascribed to the Dalai Lama’s religious and spiritual activities and visits to various states of India, New Delhi pointed out that the Tibetan leader had visited the state six times in the past between 1983 and 2009.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, meanwhile, said there was nothing political about the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal. “There is no political angle behind His Holiness’s visit.It is completely religious. Arunachal Pradesh is an inseparable part of India…China should not object to his visit and interfere in India’s internal affairs,” he was quoted as saying.
China has made protestations over the activities of the Dalai Lama in India in the past as well but this time around it has at least trice objected to his visit to Arunachal Pradesh, baffling the mandarins at the foreign office. A Chinese spokesperson last week said India knew the sensitivity of the border issue between both countries and allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh would damage its ties with China.
To this, a source here said that instead of accusing India of ignoring its sensitivity, China should do some self- introspection on how it had been paying little heed to India’s concerns even on the issue of terrorism. In this regard, the source pointed out how China had continued to stonewall India’s attempt to get JeM chief Masood Azhar listed as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council. Another major issue that had upset India in recent months was China’s continued blocking of India’s bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). China was also ignoring India’s territorial concerns with regard to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would pass through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own, calling it South Tibet. Besides, it accuses the Dalai Lama of separatist activities in Tibet ever since he and his supporters escaped from China in 1959.