New Delhi: A letter written by the Chinese embassy to several Indian lawmakers for attending a reception hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile triggered sharp political reactions on Friday, with a prominent parliamentarian slamming the mission for commenting on a matter in which it does not have a locus standi.
At least six MPs from various political parties attended the dinner reception in Delhi last week.
The Chinese embassy, in a letter to some of the members of the All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, expressed concern over their attendance at the event and asked them to refrain from providing support to Tibetan forces.
Sujeet Kumar, the convenor of the forum, said the Chinese embassy has no locus standi to write to an Indian MP.
There was no immediate reaction from the government on the issue. Generally, India does not approve of any foreign embassy commenting on the country’s internal matters.
The Chinese embassy’s letter came in the backdrop of strain in ties between the two countries following the eastern Ladakh border row.
Kumar, a BJD MP, said he himself has not received the letter but several other members of Parliament have got it.
“I personally treat the letter with the contempt it deserves. It is not the first time the embassy has written to me, it has written to me several times. The embassy does not have any locus standi to write to an Indian parliamentarian. If it had any issue, it could have written to the Ministry of External Affairs. It has violated the protocol,” he told PTI.
Underlining that the meeting of the Indian MPs with the Tibetan government-in-exile was not a political engagement, Kumar said it was aimed at promoting cultural and trade ties.
“We have not met the Tibetan government-in-exile on behalf of the Ministry of External Affairs or the Indian government. We attended the dinner as members of the All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet. Our meeting was aimed at promoting cultural and trade ties between India and Tibet.
“The forum is advocating for the preservation of Tibetan art, culture and philosophy. We do not want to engage in political activities but wish to increase people-to-people interaction,” he said.
Kumar added that as an Indian citizen, he can express his views and so can other MPs.
He said the members of the forum do intend to visit Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh and meet the Dalai Lama.
When contacted, Manish Tewari of the Congress, who is also a member of the forum, said, “My attention has been drawn to a report published in some English newspaper. Neither have I received any letter nor will I demean or diminish myself by responding to such imbecile missives. Had (Chinese Foreign Minister) Wang Yi written, perhaps I would have considered responding.”
After a failed anti-Chinese uprising in 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet and came to India, where he set up a government-in-exile.
Beijing has in the past accused the Dalai Lama of indulging in “separatist” activities and trying to split Tibet, and considers him as a divisive figure.
However, the Tibetan spiritual leader has insisted that he is not seeking independence but “genuine autonomy” for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet.
Kumar, who was recently appointed as the convenor of the All-Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, said the forum was almost defunct for several years, but it is being revived now.
“The forum was very active when late George Fernandes was its convenor. Later, I think it got defunct, it was not very active. Now, it is being revived. We have plans to visit Dharamshala and meet his holiness the Dalai Lama. We also want to talk about the cultural genocide in Tibet,” he said.
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