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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Fresh curbs on Dalai, media shut out

November 13, 2009

Keshav Pradhan & Prabin Kalita
Times of India
November 11, 2009

TAWANG/BOMDI-LA -- As the Dalai Lama prepares to
visit West Kameng district which, like Tawang,
had fallen to the Chinese in the 1962 conflict, the

Arunachal Pradesh government has initiated steps
to prevent the spiritual leader from making any
strong remarks against the Communist nation.

On the eve of his departure for Dirang and
Bomdi-la in West Kameng district, state officials
on Wednesday asked him to convert his public
address, which was scheduled to take place in
Tawang, into a religious congregation. "Keeping
the sensitiveness of the area in mind, we've
advised his holiness to amend his programme,"
said a senior official. The state also asked
mediapersons covering the Dalai Lama's visit to
leave Tawang as soon as his programme ended there on Wednesday afternoon.

It refused to extend the inner line permits
(ILPs), which TOI requested to cover the Tibetan
leader's two-day trip to West Kameng district.
"We've got instructions not to extend ILPs beyond
the Dalai's Lama's stay in Tawang," explained the
official. The ILPs are mandatory for outsiders
who want to visit the northeastern state. "Our
officers reprimanded us for allowing the media to
get close to the Dalai Lama. They said
journalists are asking all sorts of questions
about China," said a Central paramilitary force
officer as he stopped these TOI correspondents at
the Yid-Gha-Choezin Monastery in Tawang, where
the world's most venerated monk had arrived to
attend a religious congregation in the morning.

Even on Tuesday, sources said, the state
government cancelled the Dalai Lama's visit to a
monastery in the heart of Tawang town. Organizers
of the Dalai Lama's visit also withdrew
volunteers of the India-Tibet Friendship Society
from the Nobel laureate's programmes. On Sunday,
the first day of the Buddhist leader's visit,
these volunteers had images of Indian and Tibetan flags on their T-shirts.

Last Friday, police had removed Tibetan flags
from various locations. They also asked the Mon
Autonomous Council Demand Committee, which has
been fighting for autonomy for local Monpa
Buddhists, to keep their office shut until the
Dalai Lama left Tawang. The state government has
been extra-cautious ever since the Dalai Lama
criticised Beijing for its role in Tibet and its claim over Tawang on Sunday.

Despite fresh restrictions on his activities, the
Dalai Lama continued to draw thousands of
followers from within and outside the state. For
the third consecutive day, Tawang town remained
closed for about six hours as almost all its
residents went to attend the Tibetan leader's
discourse at the Yid-Gha-Choezin Monastery. He
was also scheduled to visit the Urgelling
Monastery on the outskirts of Tawang, where the
Sixth Dalai Lama was born in the 17th century.

Despite the chilly weather, unprecedented
enthusiasm was seen along the 186-km stretch from
Tawang to Bomdi-la. All shops were closed. Local
Buddhists draped the road with thousands of
five-colour religious flags and erected welcome
arches with sacred motifs at numerous places. "We
are thrilled to find god's reincarnation among
us," said Pema Thondup, a former Assam Rifles jawan from Themang.
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