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Centre curbs Dalai Lama and media
TAWANG/BOMDI LA, NOV 12 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 13 Nov. 2009 12:59 AM IST
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Although the government maintained that it would not interfere with the high-profile Dalai Lama visit to Arunachal Pradesh, state officials on Wednesday asked the Tibetan leader to amend his programme and ordered reporters covering his trip to leave Tawang, the Times News Network Thursday reported. On the eve of the Dalai Lama’s departure for Dirang and Bomdi La in West Kameng, state officials asked him to convert a public address, which was scheduled to take place in Tawang, into a religious discourse. “Keeping the sensitivity of the area, we’ve advised His Holiness to amend his programme,” said a senior official. The direction came a day after Beijing reiterated its objection to Dalai’s visit to the area that China claims as its own. Around the same time on Wednesday, Arunachal officials flatly rejected extension requests of inner line permits (ILPs) for reporters, including TOI’s, who had travelled to the border area to cover the two-day trip to West Kameng district. “We’ve got instructions not to extend ILPs beyond the Dalai’s Lama’s stay in Tawang,” said one official. ILPs are mandatory for non-state residents who want to visit Arunachal. “Our officers reprimanded us for allowing the media to get close to the Dalai Lama. They said journalists were asking all sorts of questions about China,” said a paramilitary officer as he stopped TOI correspondents at the Yid-Gha-Choezin Monastery in Tawang from covering the Dalai’s visit. On Tuesday, it was later learnt, the government had cancelled the Dalai Lama’s visit to a monastery in the heart of Tawang. Organisers of his visit also withdrew volunteers of the India-Tibet Friendship Society. On Sunday, the first day of the visit, these volunteers had miniature Indian and Tibetan flags on their T-shirts. Despite the restrictions imposed in Arunachal Pradesh, the Dalai Lama continued to draw thousands of followers. For the fourth consecutive day, Tawang remained closed for about six hours as almost all its residents went to attend the Tibetan leader’s discourse at the Yid-Gha-Choezin Monastery. He was also scheduled to visit the Urgelling Monastery on the outskirts of Tawang, where the sixth Dalai Lama was born in the 17th century. The present Dalai Lama is 14th in the lineage that began over 650 years ago. Despite the chilly weather, unprecedented enthusiasm and joy was seen along the 186-km stretch from Tawang to Bomdi La, the route the Dalai Lama had taken during his sensational flight from Tibet in 1959. All shops, including eating houses, were closed. Local Buddhists draped the road with thousands of five-colour religious flags and erected welcome arches with sacred motifs at numerous places. Till evening, the Dalai Lama’s followers were seen going to Dirang and Bomdi La to listen to his discourses over the next two days. “We are all thrilled to find god’s reincarnation among us,” said Pema Thondup, a former Assam Rifles jawan from Themang, as he walked to the venue of the Dalai Lama’s discourse at Dirang.

 
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