WORLD TIBET DAY – PRAYERS AT PANG GONG LAKE FOR TIBET EQUILIBRIUM
Tibetan President Dr. Lobsang Sangay hoisted Tibetan National Flag and held special Prayer Service on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 at Pang Gong Lake near India-Tibet Border in preparation for celebration of World Tibet Day on Thursday, July 06, 2017. The Prayer seeks blessings of Freedom for all Tibetans in Occupied Tibet.
I invite my readers to view photo images to enjoy ‘Natural Beauty’ of Pang Gong Lake between India and Tibet.
‘TIBET CARD’ ADDED TO INDIA-CHINA BORDER MIX AS TIBETAN FLAG IS HOISTED AT PANG GONG LAKE – INDIAN DEFENCE FORUM
BY DEVIRUPA MITRA ON JULY 08, 2017 •
Coming amid the ongoing stand-off between India and China in Doklam, the hoisting of the Tibetan flag on Indian territory could be seen as political activity.
Lobsang Sangay, head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, seen after hoisting the Tibet flag on Pangong Lake. Courtesy: Central Tibetan Administration website
New Delhi: Even as the stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers continued in one part of the Himalayas, Lobsang Sangay, head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, unfurled the Tibetan national flag on the shores of Pang Gong lake in Ladakh.
The lake, located at over 14,000 feet, sits astride India and China, with the Line of Actual Control passing through it.
Speaking to The Wire, Sonam Norbu Dagpo, spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), said that this was the first time that the independent Tibet flag had been unfurled by the head of the government-in-exile at that important location.
“This is the first visit by the CTA president to Ladakh and, therefore, the first time that the national flag has been unfurled near the lake,” he said.
Dagpo pointed out that the location has special meaning for the Tibetan community. “As you know, half the lake is in India, and half the Tibet,” he added. Consequently, he said that the hoisting of the national flag has “political and personal significance”.
When asked if any go-ahead signal was taken from authorities, Dagpo asserted, “I don’t think any permission is required to hoist the Tibetan national flag”.
Sangay was in Ladakh on the invitation of the Ladakhi community to celebrate the birthday of the Dalai Lama on July 6, Dagpo added.
According to a report on the lake shore ceremony published on the CTA website, Sangay had a brief audience with the Dalai Lama before leaving for the lake on the morning of July 5.
The report noted that Sangay poured “blessed grains” received from the Dalai Lama into the lake in the hope that “these grains will reach Tibet and bless Tibetans inside Tibet as well”.
“Physically, I may be standing just a few meters from Tibet today. However, in terms of political freedom and views, I am still far away from the situation inside Tibet,” Sangay said, according to the report.
Speaking to The Wire, a former MEA secretary, R.S. Kalha said, “The unfurling of the Tibetan flag is a political act, especially at this time”.
For the last 22 days, Indian and Chinese soldiers have been watching each other warily on a clearing called the ‘Turning Point’ in Doklam. Indian soldiers had stopped Chinese soldiers from constructing a road within Bhutanese territory, which would have serious security implications for the tri-junction and the ‘chicken neck’ Siliguri corridor.
China has been on a media blitzkrieg claiming that India violated a 1890 treaty and asserting that Indian soldiers were on Chinese territory. India and Bhutan have both said that China had changed the status-quo by building a road and asked it to return to the previous position.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a five-minute conversation on Friday on the sidelines of a meeting of BRICS leaders gathered in Hamburg for the G20 summit. However, no details were given of the “wide range of issues” discussed.
Meanwhile, even as the two leaders met in Hamburg, the Chinese embassy in India issued an advisory for its nationals to “pay close attention to personal safety”.
Observer Research Foundation’s Manoj Joshi agreed that the flag hoisting by Sangay “assumes importance due to the timing”. “This is a very significant gesture, given that it has happened for the first time at this location which has emotional and political symbolism.”
Both Kalha and Joshi pointed out that the flag was hoisted on Indian territory, which could be interpreted as political activity.
A former Indian diplomat, who has been a practitioner in India-China bilateral ties, claimed that it was unlikely that India would have “encouraged” Sangay to go to the lake. “So far, I do not see any signs of the Indian government interested in escalating the issue,” said the diplomat, who did not want to be named. He also pointed to the Indian statement on the Doklam stand-off, which he said was “very measured and sober”.
Joshi asserted that the NDA government has a history of trying to play up the Tibet issue. “Ever since this government took office, it has given more visibility to the Tibetan cause, right from swearing-in day. This has not gone unnoticed in Beijing,” he said.
When Modi was sworn in as prime minister, Sangay was among the special invitees in the audience, sitting right next to then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Sangay’s presence led to speculation of new government policy on Tibet. Sangay’s presence didn’t go unnoticed, with China lodging a protest. A few months later, Modi and Xi were sitting together on a swing alongside the river Sabarmati – but that was probably the biggest high in India-China bilateral relations till now.
In April 2016, India allowed a US-based Chinese dissident organization to organize a seminar of pro-democracy activists in Dharamshala, but later cancelled the visa of an Uighur activist on the grounds that he gave wrong information in his visa application. The visas of three other participants to the conference were also cancelled. However, the seminar went ahead, but without the media being allowed in.
The permission for the conference had come in the wake of China putting on hold – yet again – the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar by the 1267 al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions committee of the UN Security Council.
In December 2016, China warned India to respect Beijing’s “core interests” after Dalai Lama visited Rashtrapati Bhawan to attend a conference of Nobel laureates and shared the dais with the Indian president. This was the first contact between the Tibetan spiritual leader and the head of the Indian state in decades. India had played down the incident, stating that Dalai Lama had been invited for a “non-political event”.
A few months earlier in October 2016, Beijing had also protested the first ever visit by an US ambassador to India to Arunachal Pradesh.
This year, China was again upset by the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh. The language used by the Chinese foreign ministry on Dalai Lama’s visit was so sharp that India issued a list of previous trips of the Tibetan spiritual leader to the north-eastern state, which is claimed by China. The foreign ministry spokesperson also clarified that there was a “no change” in Indian government’s policy towards China’s Tibet or to the boundary question.