India cautious over Tibetan protests in Lhasa

March 15th, 2008 - 11:49 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) Wary perhaps of upsetting the Chinese in view of its growing ties with Beijing, a cautious New Delhi did not react to the crackdown on Tibetan protesters in Lhasa, the largest such protest in two decades. “There may be a cautiously worded statement some time later, calling for restrained behaviour by both parties. But India will play safe and not say anything that may upset the Chinese,” a reliable source with access to decision-making circles, told IANS.

The US, the European Union and other Western powers have called on China to exercise restraint after demonstrations by Tibetan activists in Lhasa turned violent Friday.

The protests led by Buddhist monks that began Monday on the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule took a violent turn Friday - barely a fortnight before China’s Olympic celebrations go into top gear with the launch of the torch relay, which passes through Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who has been living in Dharamsala in India for decades after he was forced by Beijing into exile in 1959, Friday appealed to China not to use force, saying he was “deeply concerned”. He also urged Tibetans “not to resort to violence”.

India’s circumspection on the protests has predictably come in for flak from Tibetan activists some of whom tried to storm the Chinese embassy here, but were thwarted by Indian policemen from doing so.

“India’s silence shows that it has buckled under pressure from China,” Tenzing Norsang, joint secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress, told IANS. He protested against what he called India’s “unfair use of force” to arrest participants of a protest march to Tibet.

Over 50 Tibetan activists were detained Saturday afternoon when they tried to storm the Chinese embassy in the capital’s diplomatic enclave - the third time in a week - to protest the crackdown in Lhasa.

“We are refugees, so we do have a right to return back. Also, we have registration certificates that show that we are foreigners in India,” said Norsang.

India has reiterated its stand on Tibetan protests saying it will not allow anti-China political activities from its soil. New Delhi made it clear that travelling across the international border without travel documents was illegal and therefore it was unreasonable to expect India to back such illegal activities.

“The Government of India has the responsibility to maintain public order. Any activity which causes disruption would be dealt with in accordance with the laws of India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna had said here two days ago.

India recognizes the Tibetan Autonomous Region as a part of China and has assured Chinese leaders that despite granting exile to the Dalai Lama, it will not allow its soil to be used for anti-China activities.

No Indian minister or official attended a function held here to honour the Dalai Lama, who was conferred the Congressional Gold Medal, by the US last year.

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