The Dalai Lama is set to hog media once again. The stage was set for the controversy the day his office confirmed the visit of His Holiness to Arunachal Pradesh in March next year. The Nobel Laureate’s accepting the request of the new chief minister Pema Khandu to visit Arunachal is great news for the mountainous state. At the same time, till his visit, there will be comments and counter comments from Indian and Chinese sides. However, as it happens always, everything will pass on smoothly except for the noises made from both sides.
China has always considered Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed territory. Before the British occupation, most parts of the region had more affiliation towards Tibet than the valley of Assam. This is the basic spirit of the Chinese claim over the territory. But, can China take this territory in future? Or is China really interested in the land? Perhaps no! After 50 years, this dispute might just fizzle out. India’s claim on PoK (‘Azad Kashmir’ in Pakistan), India’s claim on Aksai Chin (part of Xinjiang autonomous region of China) and Chinese claim on South Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) are all perhaps going to be history as people start realising futility of such claims. The diplomatic tussle over these regions will however not end till the political class continue believing that they would lose votes once they stop making such claims.
Dalai Lama is revered in Tawang region which is part of the Tibet region, ethnically and culturally quite different from the rest of China. It is there where the spiritual leader first took refuge after fleeing his palace following the threat of being detained by Chinese occupying forces in 1959. He has every reason to visit Arunachal Pradesh. China’s problem is that visit of a personality like Dalai Lama, who has an Indian passport, makes its claim over the territory weaker. No wonder the Red giant had recently objected to US ambassador to India Richard Verma’s visit to the Himalayan state. This will go on until the priorities of the nations change for something else. Sooner the better.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on October 29, 2016)