By Suhas Chakma | The aPolitical
ON THE WEB, 26 August 2017
On 12 August 2017, the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh in a Cabinet meeting decided to adopt and extend the Central government’s Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy, 2014 in the State. The policy was adopted by the Government of India in 2014 after it found that the level of assistance/facilities being extended by the various State Governments to the Tibetan refugees is not uniform. The Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy, 2014 effectively provides a uniform guideline demarcating the facilities to be extended to the Tibetan refugees living within the jurisdiction of each State Government since 1959.
Instead of condemning the failure of the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh to introduce the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014 in the last three years, a number of local organisations of Arunachal Pradesh namely All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU), People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) and Arunachal Civil Society (ACS) opposed the implementation of the Policy in the State on the ground that it poses a threat to demography and survival of indigenous peoples of Arunachal Pradesh, their livelihood and so forth.
Do 7,530 Tibetan refugees pose a threat to Arunachalese?
The 2016-2017 Annual Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs states that as on 31.03.2013, there were 7,530 Tibetan refugees in Arunachal Pradesh. The Tibetan refugees came in 1959 and after 54 years, their population had increased to 7,530.
Can these 7,530 Tibetan refugees pose a threat to 1.4 million (1,383,727 persons) people of Arunachal Pradesh as per 2011 census?
Can 7,530 Tibetan refugees pose a threat to the livelihood of 1.4 million (1,383,727 persons) people of Arunachal Pradesh?
That the Tibetan refugees pose any threat either to demography or livelihood of indigenous peoples is utter non-sense. Those who oppose Tibetan refugees in Arunachal Pradesh obviously seek to keep the refugees and their descendants, who can legally claim as citizens of India, under slave-like situation.
Treatment of the Tibetan refugees: Arunachal Pradesh Vs Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir
As per the Annual Report of the MHA, apart from Arunachal Pradesh, major concentration of the Tibetan Refugees as on 31.03.2013 is in Karnataka (44,468), Himachal Pradesh (21,980), Uttarakhand (8,545), West Bengal (5,785) and Jammu & Kashmir (6,920).
These mainland Indian States have welcomed the Tibetan refugees with open arms and had adopted the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy before Arunachal Pradesh government.
The question arises why are the Tibeto-Mongoloid origin tribals of Arunachal Pradesh are opposing the Tibetan refugees?
Arunachal Pradesh Vs Botswana
Recently, defying China’s pressure, President Ian Khama of Botswana promised to re-invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the country after the Tibetan spiritual leader had to withdraw from a conference held in Gaborone from 17-19 August following exhaustion. China had put diplomatic pressure asking Botswana to cancel the invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama whom it calls “splitist”.
In an interview to The Botswana Guardian, President Khama reminded China that Botswana is not China’s colony. His Holiness thanked and praised President Khama for his ‘unwavering stand’ despite ‘overwhelming pressure’.
The opposition to 7,530 Tibetan refugees by Arunachal Pradesh is akin to supporting the policies of the government of China which issues stapled visas to the Arunachalese and recently renamed six places of the State claiming them to be a part of its territory.
Learn from Germany
Tibetans are one of the most peace-loving people in the world. Tibetans have never taken up violence and never harmed others. In fact, the Tibetans have been forced to take extreme step of immolating themselves without harming others to highlight their plight. In its 2017 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) stated that “In protest of repressive government policies, at least 147 Tibetans have self-immolated since February 2009, including Tibetan monk Kalsang Wangdu and Tibetan student Dorjee Tsering, both in 2016”.
Yet, neither these types of suffering nor their plight makes any appeal to a few xenophobic groups in Arunachal Pradesh. Nor the fact that Germany welcomed about one million Syrian refugees in the last two years evokes any conscience.
When the Tibetan refugees whose population became 7,530 in 54 years of the exodus are considered as a threat, it will not be an understatement to state that humanity and rationalism have failed before racism, xenophobia, and ignorance.
The opposition to the implementation of the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014 should make each and every conscientious Arunachalese ashamed.