Ulfa-I warns Dalai Lama on China

Spiritual leader to attend river festival as he visits NE from April 1-12

By RAJIV KONWAR in Guwahati
  • Published 29.03.17
The Dalai Lama. File picture

Guwahati, March 28: Ulfa (Independent), the Paresh Barua-led militant outfit, today put a caveat on the visit of spiritual leader Dalai Lama to Assam next month: speak nothing against China in private or public.

"The caveat we would like you to honour upon making the trip that nothing against China will be uttered by you in private or public. China has always been a friendly neighbour of ours and the relationship between China and Assam is truly very deep in linguistic and cultural heritage of the two nations," said a letter from Ulfa (I) to the Dalai Lama.

The letter, signed by the organisation's chairman Abhizeet Asom and released to the media, said rather than welcoming Dalai Lama to Assam with open arms, the outfit was addressing him with "disdain".

The Dalai Lama will arrive here on Saturday on a 12-day visit to the Northeast. He is likely to participate in the Namami Brahmaputra festival that day. His Assam itinerary also includes a public talk at ITA Center for Performing Arts here on April 1, in Gauhati University on April 2 (it was to be held at IIT Guwahati initially) and at Dibrugarh University on April 3.

From April 5 to 12, he will be in Arunachal Pradesh, visiting Tawang, Lumla, Dirang, Bomdila and Itanagar. He will be in Tawang from April 5 to 7.

China had earlier warned India that allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh could "harm" peace and stability along their contested border and cause "serious damage" to bilateral relations.

"Your Holiness's unwise plan to go to Tawang despite China objecting to your visit is a great concern to us. Because the situation can escalate and China's restraint not to have a military confrontation with India might be overridden by necessity and a war might become inevitable," said Ulfa (I).

On the issue of Tawang, Ulfa (I) lobbed the allegation of "double talk" at Dalai Lama. The letter said: "In the list of Indian illegal occupation is, of course, Nan Zang (southern Tibet). The Indian Premier of the day, (Jawaharlal) Nehru, grabbed the opportunity of attempting to undo the acceptance of Tibet as a part of China in 1951, made you a very special 'guest' in keeping with the scheme of things to keep NEFA [North Eastern Frontier Agency] ceded to British India by Tibetan emissary at Delhi without the knowledge and agreement of the Chinese imperial representative to the Simla conference of 1914.

"Despite the deceitful drawing of the McMahon line then and your Holiness's acceptance that your homeland is an autonomous region of China, you perpetrated the fallacy of 1914 by recently reiterating that Tawang belongs to India. If it is not double talk, what is it, your Holiness? I am really astounded that you have succumbed to appeasement from the eminent position you have on the world stage to support India's occupation of Nan Zhang," the letter said.

Ulfa (I) urged the Dalai Lama to acknowledge Assam as an occupied land and "resonate her freedom in his words, to use his visit optimistically and consider reviving the Buddhist heritage of the state" and to condemn the Centre's "brutal oppression" of Assam, especially "slaying" of 855 students during the democratic and non-violent Assam Movement.

Senior cabinet minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told The Telegraph on the sidelines of a media interaction on the holding of Namami Brahmaputra here that Ulfa (I) "can say what they want but it's our job to work. We will not get bogged down by any threat."

Assam director-general of police Mukesh Sahay, playing down the matter, said, "I have read the letter. It's not a threat but an appeal. As far as security for the event is concerned, it will be foolproof".