Wednesday, February 9, 2011

India Raids Holy Money To Karmapa - 2

By Manuwant Choudhary

McLeodganj, Dharamsala: Drinking ginger tea with a Tibetan Member of Parliament-in-exile at the Chonor House overlooking a spectacular view of the hills and the plains beyond, one would have thought Tibetans are happy being sheltered in India.

They are happy to escape the Chinese occupation and oppressions in Tibet and in India they are free to practice their religion and breathe easy.

Recently, the Dalai Lama said while China used every means to control the Tibetans, the Tibetans in Tibet look towards India.

But it has been 50 years since the Dalai Lama fled China into exile and the younger Tibetans are getting impatient. Last year they even attempted to walk back to Tibet but the Indian police arrested them.

And for 50 years not a single Tibetan has got Indian citizenship.

On December 22 2010 the Delhi High Court gave a landmark judgement after a young 25-year-old Tibetan girlNamgyal Dolkar approached the High Court as she was being denied an Indian passport.

The Delhi High Court ruled in her favour due to a changed citizenship rule which allowed citizenship under naturalisation to all those who arrived here before 1986 and their children.

In the case the Ministry of Exernal Affairs had argued that according to a ministry of Home Affairs policy decision that a Tibetan who enters India after 1959 will not be given citizenship under naturalisation under Sec 6 (1) of Citizens Act. Only by marriage to an Indian can the case be considered for citizenship.

According to the Demographic Survey of Tibetans-in-Exile 2009 the total population of Tibetans outside Tibet is 1,27,935.
This includes 70,556 male and 57,379 female.

94,203 live in India.
13,514 in Nepal.
1298 in Bhutan.
18,920 elsewhere.

It is noticed that Tibetans in the United States and Canada do not resist taking that countries passport.

So i asked Mr. Penpa Tsering how Tibet's parliament-in-exile views the citizenship issue and he replied, "We welcome the Delhi High Court order but we think its a personal choice whether Tibetans want the citizenship or not."

But what about the disadvantages in not being an Indian citizen, and he replied, "We do get private jobs easily but yes we cannot get government jobs. Also sometime at educational institutions we are treated as a foriegner."

Tibetans do not vote in the Indian elections, either.

They vote for their own Tibetan parliament-in-exile.

The reason I am going to such detail is not to bore you but to bring home certain truths about life as a refugee.

The Tibetans may have escaped Chinese occupation and violence to a free India, but even here the bureacratic oppression they face is formidable.

Some of this bureacratic opression is faced by every Indian as well.

I have always wondered why this bruhaha over the money found at the Karmapa residence when in fact the Karmapa himself entered India illegally, crossing over the Himalayas, I am sure he doesn't have a Chinese passport.

It is the Indian government who granted him asylum.

So it is also teh Indian government who should have made sure that all his legal requirements are met so that the Karmapa can live and stay in India without a hitch.

The Karmapa is not an ordinary person. He heads the religious sect so it is natural people from aroundthe world will come to him.

I had covered the Karmapa on his first visit to Bodh Gaya and at the Gaya train station as he got out he smiled.

There were a dozen intelligence officials accompanying him and he has never really been on his own.

At McLeodganj he lives in a temporary accomodation under Indian security, virtually under house arrest.

Every move is watched.

In a decade just once he was allowed foreign travel to the United States of America for 15 days only.

A Chinese spy being allowed foreign travel?

India's government is in trouble and it must be liberal in its use of legality and not misuse government machinery to harrass the Karmapa and confiscate money meant for the poorest of the poor.

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