By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, March 17: Lobsang Wangyal, a Tibetan journalist and organizer of Miss Tibet beauty pageant has finally obtained his Indian passport which was long over due in accordance with the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955.
“I am very happy to announce that I have finally obtained my Indian passport, I received my passport two days ago, but the fight goes on until all eligible Tibetans who want a passport get one,” Lobsang Wangyal said as he began the press conference held yesterday at Hotel Norbu House here in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala.
Any Tibetan born in India on or after Jan 26, 1950 –but before Jul 1, 1987 is an Indian citizen by birth according to the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955. But Lobsang Wangyal had to fight two legal battles in Delhi High court despite meeting the provisions of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed with the Delhi High Court in May, 2016, followed by a contempt petition in Feb 2017. The court ruled the PIL in his favor and passed a judgment that Tibetans, born in India between 1950 and 1987, can not be questioned under the Citizenship Act and directed both the Home and External Affairs ministries to consider applications of all Tibetans who meet the criteria of being Indian citizens by birth, without asking them to certify their nationality.
“It’s a landmark judgment by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, who quashed the government’s decision to ask for a citizenship certificate from Tibetans.” Lobsang said and added “This has paved way for other eligible Tibetans to apply for Indian passport. An officer at the Regional Passport Office (RPO), Shimla told me that the MEA is looking into the issue and a decision may soon be taken to issue passport to Tibetans.”
The Miss Tibet host has revoked both his Registration Certificate(RC), a legal document that allows Tibetans to stay in India and Identity Certificate(IC), a travel document issued by the Government of India that allows Tibetans to travel abroad, in a bid to obtain the Indian passport but swore his allegiance to the Central Tibetan Administration(CTA).
“This doesn’t make me any less of a Tibetan, I am not renouncing my allegiance to the CTA, its in line with the Tibetan Charter clause 8 section 2 which says any exile Tibetan can take citizenship of any country if need be and I will pay my tax with the Green Book to the CTA,” Lobsang reasoned holding his Indian Passport.
As the law requires Tibetans to submit their RC, Lobsang further appealed to the Kashag (Tibetan cabinet) to rectify a discrepancy in the system requiring Tibetans to furnish RC along with green book while seeking benefits from the CTA since RC is not required to serve at the highest executive posts of Sikyong and Kalons(cabinet ministers).