(TibetanReview.net, Sep14’23) – Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang of Sikkim has announced Sep 13 that Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will visit the northeast Indian border state for five days next month. It is not clear yet whether he will also visit nearby Arunachal Pradesh, to which the Dalai Lama had been invited twice since Sep 2022, including by its chief minister at the beginning of this year.
China has previously criticised his as well as top Indian leaders’ visits to Arunachal Pradesh, claiming the territory belongs to it on the basis of its armed invasion and illegal annexation of Tibet just after the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct 1, 1949.
“Ever since we formed the government in 2019, it has been our continued effort to extend an invitation to His Holiness to visit Sikkim and seek His blessings. Finally, our effort is seeing fruition this year. So we should leave no stone unturned in making the visit a historic and memorable one,” the outlookindia.com Sep 13 quoted the chief minister as saying.
“His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, will be coming to Sikkim on Oct 10 and return on Oct 14, ” PTI news agency Sep 13 quoted Tamang as saying at a meeting with senior officials in the state capital Sep 13 to discuss the proposed visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader.
The outlookindia.com report called the visit significant, considering reports of frequent failed incursions by Chinese PLA troopers along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the region. In Jan 2021, Indian and Chinese troops clashed on the LAC’s Naku La in northern Sikkim, it said.
It noted that patrolling units from the two sides came face-to-face in the Naku La sector, resulting in a physical brawl, without the use of weapons. There were reports of some soldiers getting injured on both sides.
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Also, it was previously reported in the beginning of this year that the Dalai Lama had accepted an invitation to visit Arunachal Pradesh, another Tibet-border state located nearby. It occurred during a meeting with the state’s Chief Minister Mr Pema Khandu at Bodh Gaya, Bihar, on Jan 1, reported the arunachaltimes.in Jan 3.
“A spiritually profound beginning of the New Year. Along with family today we received blessings of HH the Dalai Lama. We also prayed for his good health & long life. It was heartening that His Holiness very kindly accepted our invitation to visit Arunachal Pradesh to bless us,” the report quoted the chief minister as saying in a tweet.
Before that, it was reported Sep 7, 2022 that the Dalai Lama would visit Tawang soon, following a request made by a group of devotees from the place during its participation in a long-life religious offering to the Tibetan Buddhist leader in Dharamshala.
It is not clear yet whether the visit will take place this time.