Delhi Police bar movement of Tibetans during Chinese VIP tour

Every time a Chinese dignitary visits New Delhi, Tibetan students living in the national capital are either rounded up or forced to stay put in the house.

Tibetan Youth Congress activists protest against the visit by China's Defence Minister, General Liang Guanglie, and Commander of the Tibet military district, Yang Jinshan, to India, on 3 September 2012.

Tibetan Youth Congress activists protest against the visit by China's Defence Minister, General Liang Guanglie, and Commander of the Tibet military district, Yang Jinshan, to India, on 3 September 2012. TYC Handout

By Priyanka | Rediff

NEW DELHI, India, 3 September 2012

Tenzin Choetso, a first-year student of English literature at Delhi University’s Miranda House college, woke up with a start on Monday morning.

Choetso, a Tibetan refugee staying in New Delhi, found her friends upset and disturbed, as the Delhi Police literally sealed their movement in and out of their place of stay — the Tibet Youth Hostel.

“I had an important class today and some submissions. I do not know why they have to do this every time,” she asks, visibly irked.

The entry gates of the campus had been barricaded and there were about 15-20 police personnel, including woman constables guarding the campus, allowing only one or two students to leave the premises at a time.

“The Delhi Police closed the gates of the hostel today (Monday) morning, and nobody was allowed to leave,” says Phurby Tseten, 22, a [Tibetan] student of BSc (hons) Mathematics from Keshav Mahavidyalaya in Rani Bagh nearby.

“It was around 10.30 or 11 am, they allowed a limited number to go outside, to either get something from a shop, but by then most us had already missed a couple of hours of college,” he added.

However, most of the 220-odd students staying at the Tibet Youth Hostel in Rohini locality are hardly surprised at the Delhi Police’s decision of sealing their premises and restricting their movement during the stay of China’s Defence Minister Liang Guanglie in the capital.

And just as the last time as well (during the visit by Chinese President Hu JinTao in March), the students recall police deployment outside the hostel.

The more politically-active students are usually not allowed to leave the campus, or are detained later.

Another student explained that the police had already in its possession a list of all the students living in the hostel.

“And in case something happens, they will pick up the student from his or her college,” says another resident student Tenzin Yungdung.

He too missed the day’s classes at Satyawati College.

Earlier in the day, exile Tibetan web portal reported that students protested outside the Chinese embassy on 2 September.

They were protesting against the visit by China’s Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and Yang Jinshan, commander of the Tibet military district, the report had said.

Dorjee Tseten, the National Director of Students for a Free Tibet India and former member of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) — a formal pro-Tibet[an independence] body — was on Monday reportedly asked to come to the police station today morning. And so was 23-year-old Tsultrim Dorjee, former vice-president of TYC.

“I don’t even stay in the hostel. I stay elsewhere. Yet, today morning I was first asked to come to the police station, and now I am not allowed to leave the campus,” says Dorjee.

“I don’t even know what I have done,” he pleads to know, adding, “I am not feeling well. I had to go to college today to submit the fees, but now I cannot.”

Most of the students staying at the hostel are on scholarships covering their college fees and living expenses provided by the Tibetan Children’s Village schools (TCV), which takes care of the education of Tibetan refugees.

There are four TCV schools in Himachal Pradesh — in Dharamshala, Suja, Chauntra, and Gopalpur — and there’s one in Bylakuppe, Karnataka. The parents of most of the students here are Tibetan refugees living in Ladakh or Dharamshala.

While there are talks on organising a peaceful hunger strike in Jantar Mantar in days to come, identity crisis remains a constant reminder.

“We are a people without any country, No citizenship,” says another student, Jamphel Dhondup.

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