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I feel like a citizen of Himachal, Dalai Lama says
Phayul[Wednesday, December 17, 2008 19:21]
By Phurbu Thinley

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal (3rd R), former CM Virbhadra Singh (2nd R), Tibetan PM Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche (R), Himachal Vidhan Sabha Speaker Tulsi Ram (2nd L) and Opposition leader Vidhya Stokes (extreme L) during a cricket match at Dharamsala Cricket Stadium. The Dalai Lama was invited as the chief guest of the sporting event organized to highlight the end of a week-long winter session of the Himachal State Legislative Assembly. (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama with Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal (3rd R), former CM Virbhadra Singh (2nd R), Tibetan PM Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche (R), Himachal Vidhan Sabha Speaker Tulsi Ram (2nd L) and Opposition leader Vidhya Stokes (extreme L) during a cricket match at Dharamsala Cricket Stadium. The Dalai Lama was invited as the chief guest of the sporting event organized to highlight the end of a week-long winter session of the Himachal State Legislative Assembly. (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
Dharamsala, December 17: Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama Wednesday reportedly said he had been living in the hill station of Himachal Pradesh for so long that he feels “like a citizen” of the state.

“I have spent most of my life in this hill station. Now I feel like a citizen of Himachal Pradesh,” the Dalai Lama was quoted as saying by IANS during his visit to the state assembly complex here this morning.

This was Dalai Lama’s first visit to the Vidhan Sabha Complex at Tapovan near Dharamsala, which has been the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile since the Tibetan leader fled to India in 1959 following Chinese occupation of Tibet.

Addressing Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal as “my chief minister”, the Dalai Lama, according to IANS report, said: “Sometimes this friend becomes the chief minister (pointing towards Virbhadra Singh) and sometimes this (Dhumal). Sometimes if one works, the other gets the chance to take rest and think…”

Since 2004, the winter sessions of the Himachal Pradesh State Legislative Assembly have been held in Dharamsala, while the summer sessions continue to be held in the state capital Shimla.

The Dalai Lama listens as Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal apparently shares some cricket tips to him as they watch a friendly cricket match in Dharamsala on Wednesday  (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
The Dalai Lama listens as Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal apparently shares some cricket tips to him as they watch a friendly cricket match in Dharamsala on Wednesday (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
The Dalai Lama’s visit today to the Vidhan Sabha Complex came on the concluding day of a week-long winter session of the state assembly, which began on Dec 11.

During the visit, according to IANS report, the Dalai Lama also appealed for the release of Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia, who was arrested by the Chinese police during the Beijing Olympics.

The 73-year old revered Tibetan leader, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, later headed to watch a cricket match, organized to mark the end of the winter session, between Governor’s XI and Chief Minister’s XI at Dharamsala Cricket Stadium. His Holiness was the chief guest of the event.

At the event, the Dalai Lama was joined by the Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, former CM Virbhadra Singh, Vidhan Sabha Speaker Tulsi Ram and Opposition leader Vidhya Stokes, and Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche.

Battery of Indian dignitaries and senior officials of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile were seen during the interactive sporting event.

Tibetans display their national flag as they cheer up the two teams at the Dharamsala Cricket Stadium, Dec. 17, 2008 (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
Tibetans display their national flag as they cheer up the two teams at the Dharamsala Cricket Stadium, Dec. 17, 2008 (Photo: Tenzin Dasel/Phayul)
Tibetan and Indian cricket enthusiasts, including school children, turned up in large number to cheer up the teams.

Commenting on the afternoon event, Penpa Tsering, the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament–in-Exile, which also organized a special luncheon during the cricket match, described the day as an “occasion to cherish bond of friendship and love with the people of Himachal Pradesh.”

“By coming together through event like this can further strengthen our bond of closeness with the people and leaders of this state,” Mr Penpa, who was just yesterday sworn in as the new speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, told Phayul.

“It is also such a fortunate timing that His Holiness happens to be here with us today to share such a wonderful moment between Tibetans and our Indian friends,” he added.

“His Holiness also personally expressed today during his interactions that he was very happy to meet many of his old Indian friends,” Mr Penpa said.

This has been the Dalai Lama’s first public appearance in Dharamsala, his exile hometown in Northern India, since returning from a high-profile tour of Europe, where, among others, he addressed a plenary session of European Parliament and, met with French President Mr President Nicolas Sarkozy and other European Union leaders.
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