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Dalai Lama event: Not Delhi or Dharamsala stadium, but temple zone

The event was to be held in New Delhi initially, but was shifted to Dharamsala shortly after a government note asked senior leaders and officials to refrain from attending it.

Updated: Mar 16, 2018, 08.59 AM IST
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Tibetan government in exile had approached the administration for permission to use the cricket stadium, but later decided to hold the event in the temple complex where the Dalai Lama and his followers live.
NEW DELHI: Tibetans in exile have moved the venue of an event to mark 60 years of Dalai Lama’s stay in India from the cricket stadium in Dharamsala to a temple complex in the region.

The event was to be held in New Delhi initially but was shifted to Dharamsala shortly after a government note asked senior leaders and officials to refrain from attending it.

The Tibetan government in exile had approached the administration for permission to use the cricket stadium but the organisers later decided to hold the programme in the temple complex where the Dalai Lama and his followers have been living for decades.

“Before we could formally respond to their request to use the Dharamsala cricket stadium, they informed us that they did not want to hold the programme in an open area due to the weather,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity. It was not clear if any official communication had taken place with the Board of Control for Cricket in India or the BJP-led Himachal Pradesh government for use of the stadium.

For the Tibetan government in exile, the afterthought seemed mysterious as it would have been aware of the weather condition in Dharamsala before picking the stadium as the venue to hold the programme. For the record, sources in the Tibetan government in exile said their temple complex had ample space and hence they decided to organise the celebrations there.

Government insiders denied any pressure was exerted on the organisers to give up the request for the Dharamsala stadium. “We have very cordial and warm relations with the Dalai Lama and are willing to do whatever we can to help his followers,” an official said.

Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale had sent out a note last month to Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, following which the latter issued a directive that it was not ‘desirable’ for senior leaders and government functionaries of the Centre or states to participate in programmes of the Tibetan government in exile. This was ostensibly done to avoid rubbing China the wrong way as Sino-Indian ties were delicately poised at the moment.

China has described the Dalai Lama as a ‘dangerous separatist’.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman are set to make separate visits to China next month.

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