Tibetan self-immolator Drupchen Tsering in an undated photo.
DHARAMSHALA, February 28: Four Tibetans, including two elderly women, were arrested yesterday in Kathmandu by Nepali police on unknown charges.
The arrests came exactly two weeks after a Tibetan monk, Drupchen Tsering (Druptse) set himself on fire
protesting China’s occupation of Tibet in the Nepali capital on February 13. He passed away at a local hospital hours after his protest.
Nepali authorities, despite repeated appeals by local Tibetans, are still holding the body.
The four Tibetans, identified as Sonam Dhondup, 35, Jigme, 35, Tenzin Yangchen, 60, and Tsering, 65, were arrested near the hospital.
Sources tell Phayul that the four were shifted to the Hanumandhoka prison, the biggest in the city, earlier today.
“They could well be kept in custody for no plausible crime until March 10, the Tibetan National Uprising Day,” a Tibetan activist in Kathmandu who didn’t wish to be named said.
The same source added that the situation in the city is “extremely tense” and the area near the hospital where Druptse’s body is being kept has been turned into a fortress.
“Fears over the arrest of local Tibetan leaders and activists over the next few days is very real,” the source said.
Nepalese authorities have maintained that Druptse’s body can legally be handed over only to his parents, family members related in blood or official diplomatic representatives. If these options are not met within 35 days, authorities say they will have legal right over the body.
Druptse had only in January escaped from Tibet and was staying in Kathmandu.
Moments before setting himself on fire near the holy Boudhanath stupa, Druptse had expressed his love for the “beautiful land” of Tibet to a foreigner.
The foreigner, speaking to Dharamshala based rights group, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy later recalled that Druptse was “very calm.”
“We arrived at Galleria cafe in Boudanath around 8:15 am. We were to have our breakfast, when a young Tibetan guy, probably between 20-25 years old, came forward to speak to us. He then spoke about Tibet and said that it is a beautiful land and he loved it so much,” said the eyewitness.
Before Durptse left the cafe, he discreetly took out a lighter and asked the eyewitness to take his pictures.
The eyewitness, who had no idea that Druptse was going to self-immolate, said that although “everything happened so fast, but he was very calm."
"I heard a large noise, of people screaming and running away. He was running to the right, engulfed in flames. He didn't scream. The moment lasted around three minutes. Soon, people took out their jackets and sweaters to put out the fire.”
Druptse, 25, had doused his body with gasoline before setting himself ablaze. He passed away on the same day after suffering 96 percent burns.
Druptse is survived by his mother Tselha and father Sangnag Tenzin, who is a reincarnated lama. He is a native of Gyalchung village in Nupsur town of Serta, eastern Tibet.
Druptse earlier told his friends and relatives that he had not been able to do anything for the Tibetan cause in the past but promised to do something constructive for the Tibetan people in the future.