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800 Lamas to welcome Dalai Lama in Arunachal
Published on 5 Nov. 2009 11:34 PM IST
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More than 800 Buddhist monks led by their high priests will welcome Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama when he arrives the mountainous northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh Sunday amid mounting protests from China over his visit. “Preparations are almost complete with 700 to 800 monks all set to give the Dalai Lama a religious welcome,” T.G. Rinpoche, a senior Buddhist spiritual leader and a former minister, told IANS. Rinpoche is overseeing preparations at the Tawang monastery and also at a school playground here where the Dalai Lama will hold a three-day religious discourse from Monday. “Along with preparations, prayers are also going on in all the monasteries for the safe visit of the Dalai Lama,” said J.P. Shastri, a priest at the historic Tawang monastery. The Tibetan leader arrives Sunday at the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, a region bordering China and which Beijing claims. “The entire town and the monastery have got a facelift. Devotees are excited about the Dalai Lama’s visit,” Rinpoche said. The Dalai Lama is also expected to inaugurate a super-speciality hospital at Tawang. It was through Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh that in 1959 the Dalai Lama escaped the Chinese to enter India. Since then he has lived in India. The Buddhist leader will the visit the adjoining town of Bomdilla and Dirang Nov 12, before leaving for state capital Itanagar. The visit ends Nov 15. “He will also give sermons to devotees in Dirang, Bomdilla and Itanagar,” Rinpoche said. China has raked up a controversy by asking India not to allow the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian government has already cleared the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal despite China’s opposition. “China has simply no business to interfere in India’s internal matters. The Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh is purely religious,” Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh Takam Sanjay told IANS. Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030-km unfenced border with China. 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 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 in turn accuses China of occupying 8,000 sq km in Kashmir. Tensions flared up 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 border.

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