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Nepal fails to erase Dalai Lama from Tibetan hearts

Posted by Ramesh Khati on June 26, 2009

KATHMANDU: Once, the name plate outside the walled house invisible from outside proudly said “Gaden Kangsar” – the residence of the Dalai Lama. But when Nepal’s Maoist government began a fresh crackdown on the supporters of the exiled Tibetan leader last year, the house in Kathmandu’s embassy enclave, once known as the office of the Dalai Lama’s representative in Nepal, chose discretion over confrontation and the sign, written both in English and the elegant Tibetan script, was tarred over.

But it is not so easy to erase the loyalty to the Dalai Lama and dreams of a free Tibet from Tibetan hearts. A group of 35 Tibetan exiles proved it Friday when they courted arrest by trying to stage a peace march in Tibet.

As the world observed the International Day Against Torture, the exiles left Kathmandu at 4am in a bus, heading towards the north. Their plan was to take the Araniko Highway that connects Nepal with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, cross the Nepal-Tibet border and stage a public protest in Tibet asking for the restoration of rights and democracy in the annexed Buddhist kingdom.

However, they were prevented by the Nepal police contingent patrolling the border, who stopped the bus and took the group under control. The protesters lay down on the highway, raising slogans for a free Tibet till they were dragged away. Police said the bus had been sent back to Kathmandu where the group, including eight women, will be handed over to the immigration authorities for appropriate action.

This is the first major Tibetan protest since the formation of a coalition government led by communist Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal. The protests, that had continued for almost a year last year mortifying China on the eve of the Olympic Games, were stifled after a Maoist government came to power in August 2008 and ordered stronger measures, including patrolling by its cadres.

Nepal, who has received an invitation to visit Beijing but is yet to set any dates, will come under fresh pressure from his northern neighbour after Friday’s resumption of protests. Though his government adheres to the earlier ones’ foreign policy of not allowing anti-Chinese activities on Nepali soil, Beijing is bound to seek more effective measures to control the protests. It has stepped up vigil along its border with Nepal to prevent Tibetan fugitives from heading towards Dharamshala in India via Nepal and now is asking for the regulation of the open Indo-Nepal border to cut off the entry of protesters from India.

Source: The Times Of India


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