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Arunachal awaits Dalai Lama visit by Oct-Nov 2023

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(TibetanReview.net, Apr23’23) – Apart from Sikkim in October, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, HH the Dalai Lama, is likely to visit Arunachal Pradesh during Oct-Nov 2023, according to Indian media reports Apr 23. Both the states, located near each other in India’s northeast, share border with Chinese occupied Tibet.

The reports followed Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s tweet on Apr 22 saying: “Blessed to have audience with the apostle of peace, embodiment of compassion, ocean of wisdom, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama along with my family members today morning. Happy that His Holiness has reiterated his assurance to visit Arunachal by October-November this year. Sought His blessings for the state & its people.”

It was not clear at once where Khandu met with the Dalai Lama who returned to Dharamshala on Apr 22 morning after taking part in the Global Buddhist Summit, which was co-hosted by India’s Ministry of Culture and held in New Delhi over Apr 20-21.

The Dalai Lama last visited Arunachal, along with neighbouring Assam, in Apr 2017.

China has in the past regularly criticized any visit to Arunachal by the Dalai Lama and top Indian leaders, claiming the state belongs to it on the basis of its coerced annexation of Tibet in 1951.

Most recently, China said Apr 10 that it was firmly opposed to India’s home minister Amit Shah’s visit to the state, claiming it violated China’s territorial sovereignty. “The Indian official’s visit to Zangnan (China’s name for Arunachal, meaning southern Tibet) violates China’s territorial sovereignty, and is not conducive to the peace and tranquility of the border situation,” the voanews.com Apr 10 quoted China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin as saying.

Shah was in the state to launch the country’s “Vibrant Villages” programme in the remote border town of Kibithoo. The aim is to strengthen border security by encourage reverse migration with building of infrastructure and launch of welfare and employment generating projects.

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist even though he only asks the former to respect its own constitution which guarantees autonomy to Tibet and four other territories it has labelled as ethnic minority regions. Of them, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang (East Turkestan) are also occupied territories.

The Dalai Lama, who is now 87, has greatly restricted his travels in recent years. However, apart from a knee condition, he remains in robust health and expects to live to be more than 110 years of age.

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