Tibetans seek regularization of encroachments

By S Gopal Puri | TNN

DHARAMSHALA, India, 4 March 2013

In a fresh development in the ongoing operations of the forest department to clear illegal encroachments by Tibetans in McLeodganj, Tibetan authorities have urged the state government to regularize these lands, stating that they have been living here since they took asylum in India after China invaded Tibet.

However, chief minister Virbhadhra Singh said here on Sunday that the government is not in any such mood and will go through the legal course in the matter.

There were about 1,058 cases of encroachment in Kangra district, which included about 180 cases related to encroachments by members of Tibetan society, including monasteries.

The Tibetan settlement office in its appeal has also given reference to the letter written by the Dalai Lama in 1992 to the then chief minister asking to regularize these forest encroachments.

“It was in the year 1959 that thousands of Tibetans came to India with Dalai Lama and took asylum in India. From 1960 to 1992, no one came to evacuate the land and then Dalai Lama had written to the then chief minister, Shanta Kumar, requesting him to regularize these lands. The government had then told verbally that they will do this,” the letter written by the Tibetan settlement office to forest department said.

Asked by TOI whether the government will regularize these encroachments, Virbhadra Singh said that the government will look into he legal options in this case.

“We will look into all legal points in the matter. I will ask for details from the department which I don’t have right now. A decision will be taken only after going through all legal courses,” said the CM, who was in Dharamshala on Sunday.

In 1992, the Dalai Lama had urged the government to either extend the period or to regularize the land. However, the high court had set a deadline of March 31, 2013, to clear all such intrusions in cases of forest land encroachments. As such. the forest department may face contempt of court charges, if a satisfactory reply is not filed before the high court, sources said.

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