The Times of India – Dalai Lama angle to China stopping movement of Kailash yatris

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

New Delhi, 27 June 2017. China has hardened its stand on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by stopping movement of Indian pilgrims for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nathu La Pass.

Beijing hasn’t given any reasons for its action, but Delhi suspects that it could be a reaction to Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in April, sources here said.

The Chinese move came ahead of a meeting between PM Modi and Trump in Washington. The two leaders are expected to put in place an arrangement for strengthening economic partnership in the Asia-Pacific or Indo-Pacific region, sources said ahead of the meeting scheduled for early Tuesday India time.

China is emerging as a leading power in the region through an aggressive policy involving territorial claims and arm twisting.

The action in the Nathu La Pass area in Sikkim comes within weeks of an airspace violation by Chinese choppers in Uttarakhand. The situation has been further complicated with Chinese troops entering the Sikkim sector and jostling with the Indian Army personnel guarding the LAC besides destroying two bunkers.

The face-off has been going on in the Doka La general area in Sikkim for the past 10 days. A flag meeting was held between senior Army officers from both sides on June 20, but tension still persists.

It is not the first time that such a transgression has happened at the Doka La, located at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. Beijing had earlier warned India about the consequences of Dalai Lama’s trip to Arunachal Pradesh, whose entire territory, in particular the Tawang area visited by the Tibetan leader, is claimed by China.

On Monday, Beijing said the foreign ministry authorities of both countries were in “communication” on the suspension of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra (KMY) through the Nathu La Pass, but didn’t give any specific reasons. This raised suspicion that there is more to meet the eye than mere landslides which Beijing initially claimed as the reason for suspending KMY through Nathu La.

The annual Yatra was suspended over the weekend and pilgrims have returned to Gangtok after the denial of permission. “There are some difficulties being experienced in movement of Kailash Mansarovar Yatris via Nathu La. The matter is being discussed with the Chinese side,” a foreign ministry official said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said “the two foreign ministries are communicating on this issue”. There are unconfirmed reports of certain internal troubles in the region through which KMY occurs. At least seven batches of 50 pilgrims each were expected to cross over to Tibet through the Nathu La Pass.


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