No interfere with peaceful Tibetan protests: Dhumal

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Chandigarh, Mar 17 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today said the state government would not interfere with Tibetan protests as long as they were peaceful.

''The Dalai Lama and his followers are the guest of our country and we treat our guests as God. As long as they are holding peaceful protests the state government will not interfere in the matter." Mr Dhumal said in a press conference here.

The CM however, appealed to the Tibetan exiles holding protests in different parts of the state to not to indulge in violence while participating in their global protests to mark against the continuous occupation of Tibet by China and mark the 49th anniversary of an uprising against Chinese rule and to press for their demand for independence ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Tibetans are protesting in the various parts of the state, especially in Macleodganj and Dharmshala where the Tibetan leaders were running a government in-exile with the Dalai Lama as their spiritual head.

On the impact of growing presence of Tibetan population, which was staying in the state from 1959, on the law and order situation in the state, the CM said, ''we are alert regarding this aspect and keep in touch with Central government in this regard.'' Mr Dhumal also stressed the need to extend the Pathankot- Jogindernagar railway line, through the Rohatang tunnel project, till the areas bordering Tibet.

''This would not only boost the development in the border areas, it would also prove to be of immense help for the defence forces deployed in the areas, especially in view of the China laying a railway line till Lhasa in Tibet,'' Mr Dhumal said.

UNI PS JN VN1639

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