Dalai Lama's visit not to affect Indo-China relations: Khandu

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Itanagar, May 21 (UNI) Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu has asserted that the proposed visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the state in the later part of this year to inaugurate a hospital at Tawang would not affect the relationship between India and China.

Mr Khandu was responding to questions from reporters here yesterday on the issue of whether the Centre would deny permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal in the wake of the Tibet situation.

The Chief Minister categorically said the Centre never failed to assert its position, which was demonstrated by the recent visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony to the Himalayan state despite China's claims over Arunachal.

''The Dalai Lama is a religious leader who can visit any part of the country and China cannot raise any objections,'' he said, adding that his visit should not create any misgivings on Indo-China relations.

''It is a wrong notion in some quarters that New Delhi is subservient to Beijing and restricting the movement of the Dalai Lama to placate China,'' he said.

''India is not placating China in any respect, including on the latter's claim over Arunachal's territory,'' the Chief Minister asserted.

Referring to his recent meeting with the spiritual guru at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh last month, Mr Khandu said certain people with vested interests had complained to the Dalai Lama that the Chief Minister had stopped a procession of the Lamas at Tawang, who were expressing solidarity with the agitating Tibetans across the border, and police lobbed teargas shells to disperse them.

''I have explained to him that I had urged all sections of people to offer prayers inside the Tawang Monastery and avoid outdoor protests that may lead to violence,'' he said, adding that the Dalai Lama was satisfied with his clarification as he himself never advocated any protests that may lead to violence.

''There is no question of New Delhi denying permission to the Dalai Lama, who had visited Tawang in 2003 and contributed an amount of Rs 20 lakh for a hospital, which was recently completed,'' he said.

''We have invited him to inaugurate it and he has consented to do so,'' he added.

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