Dharamshala: Concurring with the Tibetan Parliament’s ongoing Tibet advocacy in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, parliamentary delegation consisting of MPs Youdon Aukatsang, Geshe Monlam Tharchin, and Tashi Dhondup reached out to Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha, Education Minister of Sikkim; Shri Arun Kumar Upreti, Speaker Sikkim Legislative Assembly ; Shri Sangay Lepcha, Deputy Speaker Sikkim Legislative Assembly ; Shri D. R. Thapa, MLA and State BJP President; Shri Nakul Das Rai, Former MP Lok Sabha and Vice President, Ruling SKM Party; Shri PT Gyamtso, Former MP, Rajya Sabha; Shri A. Sudhakar Rao, IPS Additional Chief Secretary. Home Department Government of Sikkim; Shri Dr. Passang D Phempu, Director, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology; President and members of the Bharat Tibet Sahyog Manch, BTSM; and others from 27th to 28th of August 2023.
On 27th August, the delegation called upon Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha, Education Minister of Sikkim and briefed the minister on their Tibet outreach to previous Indian states. The minister shared his experience of receiving a personal audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his commitment to support the just cause of Tibet. He further mentioned that people of Sikkim are earnestly waiting for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to the state.
A meeting was also held with the members of the Bharat Tibat Sahyog Manch at the TSO hall wherein the Tibetan MPs briefed the Tibet supporters on the ongoing state advocacy across India and on the details of the appeal letter from the TPiE. Documents on the current critical situation inside of Tibet – in Nepali language – were also distributed to have a better understanding of the ground situation. During the meeting, discussions were held on the need of participating in political campaigns related to Tibet, coordinating with the Tibetans living in Sikkim, advocating Tibet on the internet, publishing Tibet related articles and stories in Newspapers and magazines, and others.
Members of the BTSM informed that all the chapters of BTSM across India hold Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama related discussions on every Wednesday (Lhakar) and have participated in numerous campaigns in Sikkim and outside of Sikkim including the ‘Tawang March’. Speaking on the Sino-Tibetan border and its significance, the BTSM in Sikkim has been also spreading awareness on the importance of Tibet’s rivers to the South Asian countries. In accordance with their adopted resolution, they have been also collecting signatures for the signature campaign to the Indian government to confer His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the Bharat Ratna.
The meeting was attended by Dr. L. P. Sharma, BTSM President; Dr. R. P. Poudel, BTSM Executive member; Mrs. Radha Pandey, BTSM Women’s Wings President Mr. M. N. Dhungel, BTSM General Secretary; Mr. Ramesh Battarai, Coordinator for West Bengal, Odisha and Sikkim; Ms. Binita Sharma, Women Wings working at Beltech Al; Phunstok, LTA Chair; TSO President Tsering Yangzom.
Following on the same day, the delegation had a meeting with Shri D. R. Thapa, MLA and State BJP President; Shri Nakul Das Rai, Former MP Lok Sabha and Vice President, Ruling SKM Party; Shri PT Gyamtso, Former MP, Rajya Sabha. MLA Thapa. In response to Tibetan MPs’ appeal to support the just cause of Tibet, the MLA assured his continued support to Tibet and spoke on the significance of protecting the shared culture and religion between Tibet and Sikkim. While the two former Indian MPs shared their past experience of being part of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet and on assistance provided by Shri PT Gyamtso during the establishment of the Tibetan Parliamentary & Policy Research Centre and Sikkim’s Tibet support group. They further discussed many significant issues concerning Tibet.
The next day on 28th August, the delegation called upon Shri A. Sudhakar Rao, IPS Additional Chief Secretary of Home Department of Sikkim. They appealed to the IPS Additional Chief Secretary to provide the needed assistance to the Tibetans residing in Sikkim in accordance with the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy of 2014 which he assured doing and provided some related documents adopted by the state in 2018 to the Tibetan MPs.
Thereafter, they paid a courtesy visit to Shri Sangay Lepcha, Deputy Speaker of Sikkim Legislative Assembly, and briefed on the evolution of the Tibetan democracy in exile, working of the All Party Indian Parliamentarians Forum on Tibet, current alarming situation inside of Tibet, and others. On the appeal of the Tibetan lawmakers, the Deputy Speaker promised to support the establishment of Members of the Legislative Assembly’s Tibet support group.
Following that the Tibetan MPs paid a courtesy call on Shri Arun Kumar Upreti, Speaker of Sikkim Legislative Assembly, and apprised him of their meeting with the Deputy Speaker. They also appealed to the Speaker on establishing members of the legislative assembly’s Tibet support group. The Speaker assured his best by claiming that Tibet and Sikkim are like siblings with common culture and religion and supporting Tibet is Sikkim’s responsibility. He also advised the Tibetan delegates to study the adopted Sikkim documents on Tibetans of the year 2018 and to spread awareness amongst Tibetans.
The Tibetan MPs then visited the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology’s Museum and library and met with the institute’s director. Dr. Passang D Phempu, the Director of the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology gave a brief introduction of the NIT before the Tibetan MPs spoke on the topic ‘India and Tibet: History and culture connection and on the importance of Sowa Rigpa and Himalayan environment’.
Speaking at the seminar, MP Geshe Monlam Tharchin highlighted the significance of Sowa Rigpa which is a Tibetan word and further described its meaning and the form of the traditional system. He also explained the importance of mentioning the Tibetan system of Sowa Rigpa and clarified that carrying the legacy of Sowa Rigpa is also a form of extending their support to Tibet. While parliamentarian Youdon Aukatsang gave the gist of their visits to the states of Odisha and West Bengal and explained the Sino-Tibetan relation with common culture and religion, agreements signed by independent Tibet, significance of rivers flowing to south east Asia from Tibet, etc. Explaining the programs of the TPiE, MP Dhondup Tashi said that NIT’s Sowa Rigpa program is considered a priority by the governor, education minister, and other leaders and advised the students to put their heart and soul into studying it. The talk followed with a Q&A session and thank you note by Dr Tenzin Choedon. The seminar on Tibet was attended by around 45 students.
The parliamentary delegation was accompanied by TSO Lhakpa Tsering.