Experts urge India to revise its Tibet policy

[IANS] NEW DELHI, July 3: Experts Thursday urged the central government to revise its Tibet policy and put pressure on China to resolve the Tibetan conflict by satisfying people of the contested territory.

A “sovereign” Tibet – and not China – had been India’s neighbour for many years and it was unfortunate that India’s policy was now directed at recognising China’s claim on the disputed plateau, they said.

The experts were speaking at a discussion here on “Simla Convention after a Hundred Years” organised by India International Centre in co-ordination with Tibet Policy Institute.

“India-China friendship is not possible without resolution of the Tibet issue, guaranteeing satisfaction and dignity of its people (Tibetans).

“Let us remind China that Tibet is not its internal matter and that it affects India viscerally,” said R.N. Ravi, former special director of the Intelligence Bureau.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said China was trying to change the demography in Tibet by application of force.

“Violent means to change Tibet’s demography (by China) are being used. No civilised nation can support the annihilation of an entire race in the 21st century,” Joshi said.

The experts largely agreed that it was by virtue of the Simla Convention of 1913-1914 that Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh was ceded to British India by Tibet.

Then “considerably independent” following the decline of Ching dynasty in China, Tibet was in the hope that India would provide military assistance against any attempt by China to “colonise” it, they said.

The experts said India’s ratification of the Panchsheel Agreement in 1954, “legitimised” China’s “military occupation” of Tibet.

“India’s policy on Tibet has not been decolonised. It is following the footsteps of the British policy with all its flaws,” said Dibyesh Anand, a professor with University of Westminster and a commentator on Tibet conflict.

Naresh Mathur, an advocate and author, said India should revert to Simla Convention in which Tibet was included as an independent party in the talks.

He said if India fails to recognise Tibet as an independent country, there will be little room for it to defend its claim on Tawang, which was ceded by Tibet during Simla Convention as an independent entity.

Lobsang Sangay, the prime minister of Tibetan government-in exile, said Tibet was of “critical importance” to all of Asia, particularly to India, environmentally and geo-politically.

He called for a “middle-way” approach for the resolution of Tibet issue. “There should be general autonomy of Tibetan people within the framework of the Chinese constitution,” Sangay said.

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