China can have its own opinion, Dalai Lama free to travel, says Congress

| Updated: Oct 29, 2016 14:35 IST

New Delhi [India], Oct. 29 (ANI): The Congress party on Saturday rubbished and rejected China's warning to India not to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh in January next year. It said that the Tibetan spiritual leader is free to travel independently to any part of India and that Beijing has no right to question it. "China can have its own opinion. We all believe that the Dalai Lama is a guest in India and that the Dalai Lama can travel freely, independently to any portion that is within the territorial jurisdiction of India. Arunachal is an integral part of India," Congress leader Randeep Surjewala told ANI. Surjewala further urged the Government of India to send a strongly worded message to China on the issue. "No other country, no other individual, definitely not China, has the right to question the complete integrity and union of the state of Arunachal Pradesh with the union of India. We have indelible rights over the land as also over the territory of Arunachal Pradesh as it a part and parcel of India. The Government of India should send a strong message to China on this issue," he said. The Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit to Arunachal Pradesh early next year at the invitation of the Chief Minister Pema Khandu. China considers the Dalai Lama a "splittist" who seeks to separate nearly a quarter of the land mass of the People's Republic of China. "India is very clear about the severity of the Dalai Lama issue and the sensitivity of the China-India border issue. Under this circumstance, the Indian side invited the 14th Dalai Lama to visit the disputed territorial area of China and India, which could only severely damage the peace and stability in the border area of China and India and China-India relationship," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media at a daily briefing in Beijing. Asserting that China resolutely opposes Dalai's visit to disputed territorial area of China and India, Kang called on New Delhi to honour its commitment to China on the issue of Tibet, which is a political commitment, abiding by the important consensus on the issue of border. "Do not take any actions that could further complicate the border issue, do not provide a stage for the anti-China separatist activities by the 14th Dalai, therefore the healthy and stable development of China-India relationship can be maintained," Lu added. China had admonished the United States on Monday for sending its ambassador to India Richard Verma to a contested stretch of land on the India-China border, warning that a "third party's" meddling would only complicate the dispute between Beijing and New Delhi. Disagreement between nuclear-armed China and India over parts of their 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962. The countries have moved to control the dispute, but repeated rounds of talks have failed to make much progress. India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west, and is also suspicious of China's support for its arch-rival, Pakistan. Tensions occasionally flare over the disputed border. In August, China was angered by India's plans to place advanced cruise missiles there. (ANI)