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Angry monks pray as China opposes Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit
Published on 24 Sep. 2009 11:45 PM IST
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Buddhist monks have been holding special prayers here for the safe visit of the Dalai Lama to India's frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh after China objected to the Tibetan spiritual leader's proposed trip, religious leaders Thursday said. "We are holding daily prayers so that the Dalai Lama's visit passes off peacefully," J.P. Shastri, a priest at the historic Tawang monastery, told IANS. The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China, besides capital Itanagar, in November. China recently raked up a controversy by asking India not to allow the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu was quoted as saying in the media: "We firmly oppose Dalai Lama visiting the so-called 'Arunachal Pradesh'." India rejects Beijing's claim to Arunachal Pradesh. "Arunachal Pradesh is a part of India, and the Dalai Lama is free to go anywhere in India," India's Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said recently reacting to the Chinese objection. It is through Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh that in 1959 the Dalai Lama escaped the Chinese to enter India. The monks and priests at the Tawang monastery are angry over Chinese interference. "It has become a habit of sorts for China to oppose the Dalai Lama's visit to any part of the world. We are not bothered about China's reaction and would welcome the Dalai Lama in our traditional way," Lopchen Yeshi, another priest at the monastery, said. The Arunachal Pradesh government too is unhappy over China's opposition to the Dalai Lama's visit. "China has no business to interfere with the Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh. We welcome the Dalai Lama's visit and will ensure that his trip is successful," Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorji Khandu told IANS. "New Delhi should once for all settle any dispute or doubts with China instead of lingering any further." Meanwhile, convoys carrying Indian army soldiers continue to proceed towards the Chinese border along Arunachal Pradesh, although army commanders say the troop deployment was routine and part of 'Operation Alert', a winter exercise of sending troops to the frontier ahead of the bitter winters when the road becomes impassable due to heavy snow. The mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030-km unfenced border with China. The India-China border along Arunachal Pradesh is marked by the McMahon Line -- which India regards as the legal national border but China does not recognise. China, however, does recognise a Line of Actual Control (LAC) which includes the "so called McMahon Line". India and China fought a border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops. The border dispute with China was inherited by India from British colonial rulers, who hosted a 1914 conference with the Tibetan and Chinese governments that set the border in what is now Arunachal Pradesh. China has never recognised the 1914 McMahon Line and claims 90,000 sq km, nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh. India also accuses China of occupying 8,000 sq km in Kashmir. After 1962, tensions flared again in 1986 with Indian and Chinese forces clashing in Sumdorong Chu valley of Arunachal. Chinese troops reportedly built a helipad in the valley leading to fresh skirmishes along the borders.

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