The 74-year-old Nobel laureate insisted that his visit to the area, ownership of which has long been claimed by India and China, was non-political after Chinese officials accused him of seeking to stir up tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.
Indian Buddhist region Mon Tawang holds memories for His Holiness the Dalai Lama: he first sought refuge there when fleeing Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. “There are a lot of emotions involved,” he said. “When I escaped from Tibet, I was mentally and physically very weak.”
His Holiness who arrived here Yesterday to a rousing welcome, took a swipe at Chinese government for objecting to his visit to Indian state Arunachal Pradesh and said he was “surprised” over Chinese claims on Tawang.
His Holiness said his visit to Tawang was not political but religious and spiritual, urged China to honour the rights of six million Tibetans worldwide. “The basic issue is not about my going back (to Tibet). It is about the well-being of six million Tibetans,” he told reporters at the Mon Tawang Monastery.
On Chinese objections to his visit to the Indian state, he said: “It is quite usual for China to step up campaigning against me wherever I go.” He recalled how he came to Tawang 50 years ago while fleeing from the Chinese.
He said the PLA occupied Tawang during the 1962 war. “But the then Chinese government declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew. Now the Chinese have got different views. This is something which I really don’t know. I am a little bit surprised,” he said in an apparent reference to Chinese claims over Tawang.
He said China first established contact with him in the early part of 1980. “The Chinese offered to send an official to Delhi to take me back, but I refused.” China re-established contact in 1993, he said, but there was no headway. “We renewed direct contact again in 2002 with Beijing making a fresh offer. I told them the issue was not of my return but that of the well-being of six million Tibetans ,” he said.
Tensions over the disputed Himalayan border, the trigger for a brief but bloody war between India and China in 1962, have risen in recent months, with reports of troop movements on both sides.