Dharamshala: A parliamentary delegation consisting of parliamentarians Youdon Aukatsang, Geshe Monlam Tharchin, and Tashi Dhondup, after concluding their programs in Odisha, began advocating Tibet in Darjeeling, West Bengal.
As the delegation reached Darjeeling on 24th August 2023, they were received by the Tibetan Settlement Officer led by local Tibetan leaders and were hosted at a dinner in their honor by the TSO.
On the next day, the MPs spoke at a one day national seminar titled ‘India and Tibet: Historical Legacies and Cultural Connections’ at Darjeeling’s St. Joseph’s College. Fr. Dr. Donatus Kujur, S. J. Principal, was presented with an appeal letter from the TPiE, biography of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and other Tibet related documents by the MPs. Dr. Pathik Roy, Moderator, gave the welcome address and introduced each of the Tibetan lawmakers.
MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin spoke on the four commitments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, establishment of modern and traditional educational institutions in exile, and the bond shared by the college with many generations of Tibetans. He emphasized doing research studies on the repression happening inside of Tibet under Chinese rule and doing cultural exchange programs with the Sambhota Tibetan School and the Manjushree Center of Tibet Culture there.
MP Youdon Aukatsang briefed the seminar on their recent official trip to Kolkata and Bhubaneswar while emphasizing that special relation between Darjeeling and Tibet with shared cultural heritage motivated the delegation to advocate the case of Tibet in the city. She also spoke on the Indo-Tibetan relation and on the current alarming situation inside of Tibet. MP Tashi Dhondup delved into the details of the state advocacy programs of the TPiE all across India.
Dr. Shristi Kala Chettri, Asst. Prof., Dept, of Sociology, underscored the significance of extending support to the resolution of Sino-Tibetan conflict while citing examples of its external interferences in many neighboring countries. Prof. Chettri expressed her concern over the issue of Tibet in case of His Holiness the Dalai Lama absence in future and shared how China’s each new move should be analyzed. While, Jigme – the Vice-Chair of the Manjushree Center of Tibet Culture- invited students to the center’s museum for Tibet and Himalaya to know more about the cause.
Dr. Pathik Roy, Moderator, appreciated the MPs visiting the college especially the MP from Bon religion which is ancient pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet and recalled the great accomplishments of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Calling for support from his fellow colleagues and students for Tibet, he also spoke on China’s repressive and brutal policies in Tibet and extended his solidarity with the Tibetans living inside of Tibet.
Mr. Vikram Rai, Head & Asst. Prof, Dept. of Mass Communication & Journalism, shared his experience of participating in Tibet related programs with Indian Tibet support group and Tibetan writer Tenzin Tsundue. The Prof. has also publicly defended and provided necessary clarification when His Holiness the Dalai Lama was maliciously targeted online. The seminar was attended by around 130 faculty and students.
Later in the evening, the Tibetan lawmakers had a meeting with Shri Dipen Thakuri, Chairman, Municipality of Darjeeling at the Manjushree Center of Tibet Culture. They presented the Chairman with TPiE documents and appealed for continued assistance and support to the Tibetans dwelling in the city and to the cause of Tibet. Chairman Thakuri, who had studied in a Tibetan school, has deep reverence and faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama and has strong connection with Tibetans. He assured his continued support to the local Tibetans and promised visiting Dharamshala in future. Thereafter, the MPs visited the museum of the Manjushree Center of Tibet Culture.
A dinner was hosted by the local Tibetan NGOs where the MPs had a meeting with Shri Amar Lama, Principal Advisor, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. Shri Lama was presented with a TPiE souvenir and documents. At the dinner, the MPs also met with Tenzing Bhutia, Retired Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police and Tenzin Khampachay, Ex Municipal Commissioner. They asked questions on the functioning of the Central Tibetan Administration and on numerous others which were duly clarified by the Tibetan MPs.
With this the MPs successfully concluded their official trip to West Bengal and will embark on Tibet advocacy tour in Sikkim from 26th of August.