By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, August 11: Tibetan independence activist, poet and writer Tenzin Tsundue was released Monday from Mandi Jail, after spending nine days in police custody for his alleged attempt to cross over India border into Tibet to protest against Chinese rule.
Although he is now released without any formal charges for the time being, he is now being taken to Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, to be handed over to Kangra district police.
According to him, he would be presented to Kangra district’s Superintendent of Police office tomorrow morning after arriving in Dharamsala.
“As of now no formal charges have been filed against me,” Tsundue told Phayul over the phone. “But let’s see what happens after being handed over to Kangra police tomorrow,” he added.
At the time of filing this report, he was on his way to Dharamsala, accompanied by four policemen in a police vehicle.
Police first arrested Tsundue from Buntar Airport in Himachal state on August 3, after suspecting his alleged attempt to cross over into Tibet. He was taken to Kullu police station, but released the following day.
He was again picked up by police on August 4 from Mandi, and was taken to Mandi Jail, where he refused to eat or drink in judicial custody. According to him, he was then taken to Mandi Zonal Hospital on the fourth evening and approved “forced feeding” on him. After that he was again sent back to the jail.
He was formally released from Mandi Jail today around 5:00pm to be taken to Dharamsala and handed over to Kangra SP office tomorrow.
Tsundue said he was thankful to local Tibetans from Mandi, Pandoh, and Riwalsar, who helped him secure his release today and even met him at Mandi Jail with fruits.
This was not the first time Tsundue was arrested for trying to cross over into his homeland. He was among the many “core” Tibetan marchers taking part in Tibetan People's Uprising Movement's “March to Tibet” that began from Dharamsala on March this year. He, along with other marchers, was, however, prevented by Indian authorities at Dharchula, the last Indian township before the border, after walking more than 110 days.
“Forced-feeding and arbitrary detention treated on me reminded me that we (Tibetans) don’t have our country and freedom” Tsundue, who is also the General Secretary of Friends of Tibet, India, told Phayul. “But situation in Tibet is still worse” he adds.
He said he feared situation for Tibetans in Tibet would worsen once the Beijing Olympics would be over. “That makes me feel to act more, and I am determined to do that,” he said.
Tenzin Tsundue gained notoriety in January 2002 after scaling the 14th floor of the Oberoi Towers Hotel to unfurl a Tibetan National Flag and a banner reading 'Free Tibet' while the then Premier of China Zhu Rongji was addressing a business conference inside.
In 1999 Tenzin published his first collection of poems, Crossing the Border. His essay 'My Kind of Exile' won the Outlook/Picador Best Non-fiction Award.