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Dalai Lama recalls his 1959 flight to India ahead of northeast trip

India TV News Desk New Delhi 01 Apr 2017, 17:12:22 IST
India TV News Desk

Ahead of his visit to northeastern part of India including Arunachal Pradesh, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama today recalled his 1959 flight to India from Tibet.

The Dalai Lama said that he was helpless at that time and had no option but to escape Tibet in view of Chinese military action.

"Whenever I come to the northeast of India, it feels like a reunion with people here," the Dalai Lama said. 

"When I revisit the Tawang area, I am reminded of the freedom that I had experienced for the first time (in 1959). That was the beginning of a new chapter in my life," he added.

China has reacted strongly to the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to Tawang monastery as it considers the region part of its territory.

"On March 10, 1959, there were huge demonstrations in Lhasa,the Tibetan region's capital,” the Dalai Lama recalled. 

"Chinese military action also increased. I had no option but to escape. On March 17, I fled. I sent some of my officers to Indian authorities at the border," he said. 

"They readily allowed us in, received us warmly, and today I can tell you that I am the longest guest of the Indian government," he added.

The Dalai Lama last visited Arunachal Pradesh in 2009. China protested that trip, but there was no major impact on relations with India.

He will leave for Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang district on Tuesday, at the end of his Assam state trip. He is scheduled to consecrate a temple and give teachings to his followers during his weeklong stay in the state.

Last month, China warned of "severe damage" to relations with India and increased regional instability if the Dalai Lama proceeds with his trip to the state.

Beijing has expressed its concerns to New Delhi on numerous occasions and urged India to avoid offering a place for the Dalai Lama to carry out anti-China separatist activities, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said last month.

China claims the partly ethnically Tibetan Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory, and the frontier between the two Asian giants remains tense more than 50 years after they fought a brief but bloody border war high in the peaks.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as "Southern Tibet." 

India says China is occupying 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau.

More than a dozen rounds of talks have failed to make substantial progress on the dispute, although there have been relatively few confrontations in recent years.

(With AP inputs)