By Varinder Bhatia | Indian Express
DHARAMSHALA, India, 3 November 2012
While the entire Himachal Pradesh is caught in a poll-fever, the exiled Tibetans — settled in the small cantonment area of McLeod Ganj — are merely watching the show from a distance.
With no role to play in the state or the Indian democratic system, these people, who have been living with the tag of “exiled Tibetans” for over five decades now, feel it was time that Indian parties raise the Tibet issue, not only in their legislative assemblies but also in the Parliament.
The exiled Tibetans, with their spiritual head 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso and political head Dr Lobsang Sangay, are waiting for the day when they will return to their homeland and choose their own leaders. “It is high time that the Indian political parties raise the Tibet issue in their Parliament. The issue is also relevant since it is the 50th anniversary of the Indo-China war. The Indian government should also realise that the Tibet issue is relevant and important for the country from the security point of view,” said Karma Yeshi, a MP of the exiled Tibetan government.
Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan author and renowned activist, said: “The Tibetans do not comprise of votebanks. But this does not mean that the parties in India can ignore our issues. Tibet is not only Himachal’s concern for its border security, but rather Tibet is India’s supreme national interest to deal with belligerent China. Dharamshala has become the pride of Himachal Pradesh and a key tourist industry. It must be provided with the facilities it deserves.”
“When we see people campaigning for their leaders in Dharamshala, we pray to God that a day comes when we can also go back to Tibet and follow the democratic procedures like in India. The Chinese should be pressurised by the entire world to allow Tibetans to go back to their homeland and live peacefully,” said Dawa Lhamu, a Tibetan shopkeeper in McLeod Ganj.
The Tibetans living in exile in India had been claiming the voting rights and Indian citizenship. In a recently held meeting in Dharamshala — attended by around 450 Tibetan representatives and leaders from across the world — such demands were raised. The Tibetans had also demanded that their spiritual leader Dalai Lama be allowed to speak in the Parliament and the Indian government should allow the Tibetans, not only to vote, but also contest elections.