Tibetan leader, His Holiness Dalai Lama embarked on a two-day spiritual visit to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh earlier today. This is the first such trip for the 14th Gyalwa Rinpoche since the onset of the pandemic more than two years ago. Ahead of the trip, people close to the Dalai Lama told reporters that the Lama resided in Dharamshala during the COVID period, and will visit Jammu on July 14.
The Dalai Lama arrives in Jammu
The 83-year-old leader left Dharamshala for Modhpur, Punjab by road earlier today. He reached Modhpur around 9 am from where he left for Jammu after a brief break. He reached Jammu around 11 am, as planned. He will stay in Jammu tonight & will reach UT Ladakh tomorrow, as per ANI. The last such visit of the Tibetan leader was in 2018. It is to mention that he will arrive in Ladakh on 15 July, just two days before the meet of military officials of India and China for the 16th round of talks on the disengagement of troops at friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where forces from the countries have been locked in a tense military standoff since April 2020.
As the 16th round of Corps Commander-level talks is scheduled for 17 July, China has objected to Dalai Lama’s visit as it is being seen as a signal to Beijing amid an apparent change in India’s Tibet policy.
Meanwhile, in Leh, the Tibetan head would make a short visit to the famous Thiksay Monastery in Leh and the border where Chinese troops hung banners forcing people to not celebrate the leader’s birthday (last year), on their side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) last July. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Wednesday extended greetings to His Holiness from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that India was “honoured” by the arrival of the “respected religious leader.” During a press briefing, Bagchi said, “It is a consistent policy of the government of India to treat His Holiness Dalai Lama as honoured guest in India and as a respected religious leader who enjoys a large following in India.” He added the Dalai Lama is “accorded all due courtesies to conduct his religious and spiritual activities in India.”
Beijing calls out Dalai Lama as ‘anti-China separatist (in) nature’
Ahead of the Tibetan leader’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian urged that New Delhi to identify the Dalai Lama as “an anti-China separatist (in) nature)”. He added, India must abide by “its commitment to China and speak and act prudently and stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
China also slammed the US State Secretary Antony Blinken for wishing the Dalai Lama on his birthday. Lijian dubbed the Lama as a “political exile disguised as a religious figure.”
Notably, the visit comes days ahead of the 16th round of Commander-level talks between India and China to be held on July 17, after the clashes in Galwan Valley in 2022. The discussions will be focused on easing tensions along Depsang, Charding nullah in Dhemchock after the last meeting was held in March.
Lijian also expressed Beijing’s opposition to contact between foreign officials and the Dalai Lama “in all forms.”