Himachal Pradesh CM Jairam Thakur Meets Tibetan Leader Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. He is living in exile in India since 1959 due to Chinese repression in Tibet.

Himachal CM Jairam Thakur meeting Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur on Sunday met the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamshala. 

The Dalai Lama has been living in India since 1959 when he fled Tibet along with a large number of his followers because of the Chinese repression of Tibetan Buddhists. Dharamshala is also home to the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, formally called the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). 

"I am delighted to have the opportunity again to meet with His Holiness Dalai Lama today. Because of his grace and divine blessing, Dharamshala has earned its name as an international tourist destination," said Thakur on Sunday after meeting the Dalai Lama, adding that the Dalai Lama extolled the existence of religious freedom and harmony in India and affirmed his committed service to strengthen that harmony. 

The Indian formal engagement with the Dalai Lama is of significance as it has always been perceived as a sign of Indian disregard of Chinese concerns. China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist leader and remains extremely sensitive towards Indian engagement with the Dalali Lama. However, the Indian government has disregarded such concerns following the Chinese incursions and attacks on Indian personnel in 2020 in Eastern Ladakh.

Earlier, the Dalai Lama was in Eastern Ladakh where he also flew in an Indian Air Force helicopter. Notably, China lays claim to Eastern Ladakh.

"Earlier, the Dalai Lama was in Ladakh for a month, where he met top Indian officials and engaged with the Indian military as well. The engagements were significant as they took place in the midst of the ongoing India-China stand-off in Ladakh, which China claims as part of its own territory," reported Outlook in an earlier article.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly wished the Dalai Lama on his birthday for the second year in a row. Moreover, Indian leaders are also attending Tibetan events openly.

Outlook earlier reported, "Not just Modi but Union ministers, state chief ministers, and even the Indian military have also publicly engaged with the Tibetans in recent years. During his month-long stay in Ladakh, the Union territory's Lieutenant Governor RK Mathur met the Dalai Lama. Moreover, he also addressed an event organised by the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council."

During the ongoing India-China military stand-off in Eastern Ladakh, India also deployed Special Frontier Force (SFF), a shadowy special force comprising many Tibetans. The force, until the current stand-off, worked in the shadows and was not formally acknowledged.

"The SFF is an ultra-secretive special force that was basically an "undeclared" armed force until 2020-21 operating under India's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Formally, it functions through Cabinet Secretariat, which is directly under the Prime Minister's Office," reported Outlook earlier.

The then-Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat met SFF personnel deployed on the border against Chinese soldiers.

"General Bipin Rawat CDS visited forward Air Force bases in Eastern Sector and interacted with Indian Army, ITBP and SFF soldiers deployed at the forward most air maintained post in Dibang Valley and Lohit Sector of Arunachal Pradesh," said the Indian Army in an Instagram post at the time. 

(With PTI inputs)