‘Dalai Lama Deeply Respected, Free To Conduct Religious Activities’: MEA On US Delegation Meet

After a group of US lawmakers called on Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala, drawing criticism from China, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday reiterated India’s support for the exiled spiritual leader saying that he is free to conduct his religious and spiritual activities.

“The Government of India’s position on HH Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. His Holiness is accorded due courtesies and freedom to conduct his religious and spiritual activities,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said during the weekly press briefing.

Earlier on Wednesday, a seven-member bipartisan delegation, led by US House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul, met Dalai Lama. After the meeting, Michael McCaul said that the Tibetans have the right to self-determination and should be allowed to practise their religion freely. 

The US delegation to the spiritual leader was met with sharp criticism from China on Thursday as it urged the US to “adhere to its commitments of recognizing Xizang as part of China and not supporting ‘Xizang independence’.” 

Beijing asked the Dalai Lama to have a complete reflection and thoroughly correct his political propositions for it to hold talks with him and asked the US to respect its sensitivity and importance to Tibet-related issues.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian, during a media briefing in Beijing, said, “The so-called ‘Tibetan government-in-exile’ is entirely a separatist political group. It is an illegal organisation that violates China’s Constitution and laws. No country in the world recognises it.”

He also urged the US not to have any contact with the Dalai group in any form, and stop sending the wrong signal to the world

The visit by the US Congressional delegation that included former US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi comes days after the US Congress passed the Resolve Tibet Bill, calling for a peaceful resolution on the status of Tibet. 

Their visit came as US President Joe Biden was set to sign the Tibet policy bill adopted by both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill awaits Biden’s signature to make it into law.The bill seeks to counter China’s narrative about its control over Tibet and promote dialogue between the Chinese government and the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is based in India since he fled the Himalayan region in 1959.