By Tenzin Dharpo
Left to Right- AP govt. Religion and Culture Affairs Chairman Jamphel Wangdue, CTA Prez. Dr. Lobsang Sangay and Tsewang Dolma from Home Dept. at Kashag hall, Dharamshala on July 31, 2018. Phayul photo- Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, July 31: The President of the Central Tibetan Administration here on Tuesday said that despite the protests and targeted threats from a student group against Tibetan refugees in the state of Arunachal Pradesh over the course of the last few weeks, Tibetans are safe and the situation contained with the help of the state government.
Dr. Lobsang Sangay, at a press briefing at the Kashag hall here today, said, “I would like to express my gratitude to the Central and state government of Arunachal Pradesh (AP) in extending resolute support in maintaining law and order as well as providing moral support to all the Tibetan refugees there.”
The head of the Tibetan polity said that his administration is in constant contact with Tibetan settlement officers in the state as well as CM Pema Khandu’s government there.
The visiting President of AP State’s Religion and Cultural Affairs Jamphel Wangdue, while expressing regret over the actions of the student group, said that the incident does not reflect the overall environment for Tibetans in his state. He said that besides the small student group, majority of the tribal communities have co-existed peacefully with the Tibetans. “The people of the Mon community feel it our moral responsibility in expressing solidarity with the Tibetan refugees and express regret over the incident,” Wangdue lamented.
He further said that the Khandu administration is taking pre-emptive steps to ensure the prevention of similar incidents in the future by organising awareness and sensitization drives on the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy as well as grassroots level meetings in educating the people of Arunachal Pradesh over the “politically motivated campaigns”.
Students United Movement All Arunachal (SUMAA) organised a series of protest rallies in the state capital Itanagar and neighbouring region of Bomdila earlier in the month demanding immediate rollback of the TRP, which they allege favours Tibetan refugees over natives in realising benefits from government initiatives such as MGNREGA, PDS, Indira Awas Yojana, and National Rural Health Mission among others.
The self-styled student group also demanded that Tibetan refugees to be moved to demarcated camps and revoke trading licences obtained by Tibetan refugees. A written undertaking from the Central Tibetan Administration not to claim Indian citizenship and STC/PRC in Arunachal Pradesh for Tibetans has also been demanded.
Last year, the same group initiated the “Anti Tibetan Refugee Movement” calling for ousting of Tibetan refugees from the state. The group in October 2017 also released a list of shops owned by Tibetans with their names in the Capital Complex area threatening that the Tibetans will be targeted individually and “forcefully evicted”.
The Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy assures welfare to Tibetan refugees in India on matters concerning land lease, extending central and state government benefits, relevant papers/trade license/permit for economic activity and legal permit to pursue any professional career such as nursing, teaching, Chartered Accountancy, medicine, engineering etc.
Arunachal Pradesh has the fourth largest number of Tibetans in India, with four settlements in Tezu, Miao, Tuting, and Tenzingang. However, the number of Tibetan refugees has dwindled to less than 7500 with Canada accepting 1000 Tibetan refugees and many youths venturing to bigger cities for livelihood. Many say that the tiny Tibetan community accounting for less than 0.3% of the state’s 14,00,000 population is bearing the brunt of a politically motivated campaign prior to the state’s general election due in early 2019.