It’s time India stops paying too much attention to what China may say about the Dalai Lama. For almost as long as the religious leader has lived in India since 1959 as a refugee from Tibet, China has harped on his so-called dissident activities and separatist agenda. It objects to his meeting any world leader, even India’s President Pranab Mukherjee. But the Dalai Lama has shown not the least inclination to pursue political ends, though he had to abandon his homeland 50 years ago after China began repressing Tibetans. The latest objection is to the Dalai Lama’s planned visit to Arunachal’s famous Tawang Gompa monastery, the largest in India and one of Mahayana Buddhism’s holiest sites. How anyone can protest against a religious leader praying as a monk is beyond comprehension.
China’s claim to Arunachal Pradesh as “South Tibet” is an old one. Beijing ignores New Delhi’s objections to joint projects with Pakistan through Indian territory, in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, but keeps stressing its claims to land that belongs to another nation, and comes up with bizarre propositions over visas from people of that region. Given the state of relations with China — over issues like India’s NSG entry and foiling efforts by leading world powers to put the Jaish chief Masood Azhar on a UN terrorism blacklist — it should be the least of India’s concerns that China has a bone to pick over the Dalai Lama. As far as India is concerned, the Buddhist monk is a renowned champion of world peace and is free to travel anywhere in this country.