Mr Ajit Nehria President of the Indo-Tibetan Friendship Association (ITFA), while giving his speech at the felicitation ceremony on January 16, 2021. Photo: TPI/Yangchen Dolma

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Dharamshala, India – The Indo-Tibetan Friendship Association (ITFA) of Dharamshala organised a felicitation ceremony in recognition of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act 2020 (TPSA). “I appeal to Indian government to throw some light on Tibet Act, following the steps of the US” said Shri Ajit Nehria, president of Indo-Tibetan Friendship Association (ITFA) at the felicitation ceremony.

The Ceremony was held at the auditorium of Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) on January 16, 2021. Dr Lobsang Sangay, Head of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) attended the ceremony as the Chief Guest along with the Guests of honor- Pema Jungney, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE)) and Sonam Norbu Dagpo, Chief Justice Commissioner of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC)) to celebrate and show gratitude to the US government for legalizing the TPSA 2020 into a law. The other guests included Deputy Speaker Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok of TPiE, Shri  Ajit Nehria President of ITFA, Shri  Ajay Singh Mankotia, former President of ITFA, Shri  Onkar Nehria, Deputy Mayor of Dharamshala Municipal Corporation, Shri  Subhash Nehria, ITFA’s Advisor, Ministers of respective CTA Departments and heads of various governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The ceremony commenced with the Tibetan tradition of serving tea and sweet rice and a welcome speech by ITFA President Mr Ajit Nehria. “Today, this vision has been turned into reality with the blessings of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the hard work of President Dr Lobsang Sangay,” said Shri Ajit Nehria.

He believed that passing of the bill opened doors of justice for the six million Tibetans. “This preliminary step will ignite the minds of other countries to adopt policies that are fair to the people of Tibet,” he mentioned. While addressing the audience, he also expressed his aspirations, “I would like to appeal to the Indian Government to throw some light on this issue, following the steps of the US.”

“China aims to ‘exploit’ the natural resources of Tibet,” he continued. "China has displayed ‘dictatorial’ behaviour in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and along the borders. If Tibet becomes free from illegal occupation, India would share borders with Tibet and not China,” he elucidated, conveying the truth that India never shared a border with China but Tibet historically until China’s occupation of Tibet in 1959.

He also expressed his concerns about the 11th Panchen Lama, who was abducted by China when he was only six-years-old. “In 1995, the little boy was abducted by China and has been missing ever since. Nobody knows his whereabouts,” he remarked.

“The TPSA allows and secures the rights and sole authority in selection of the Dalai Lama’s successor resting in the hands of the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhists and Tibetan people alone without any interference from the Chinese Government,” he further added. He concluded his speech by congratulating Dr Lobsang Sangay for gifting a ‘boon’ to the Tibetans.

After that, Shri  Subhash Nehria,ITFA’s Advisor stated that, “Indians residing in Dharamshala are very lucky to get the blessings and guidance of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama from time-to-time. He is a precious jewel for India. I urge the state MPs to raise their voice in the parliament for the conferment of Bharat Ratna to his Holiness the Dalai Lama by the Indian Government. This will send China on a back-foot diplomatically” .

“The Indian soldiers have to go through many difficulties to safeguard the borders of the country. This situation arose due to the invasion of Tibet by China. We must not forget that India’s security is linked to Tibet. Therefore, we must strengthen our relationship and fight for the cause together,” said Dr Lobsang Sangay, president of CTA.

Shri Ram Swaroop, Advisor of ITFA narrated a few instances before he concluded the felicitation ceremony. “Earlier, in the medical colleges of Himachal Pradesh, all the 60 seats were reserved for Himachalis. Now, here we are, having five seats in medical colleges reserved for Tibetan refugees,” he affirmed.

He also remembered his conversations with different Journalists that come from all around the world and ask him the same question – “How are the relations between Tibetans and Indians?” In reply, he would always say that Indians hold His Holiness the Dalai Lama in high esteem. “Not a single political party in India has spread propaganda against Tibetans. Moreover, we had also organized a Himachali Dham for the Tibetans, with the purpose that the world gets to know how much they mean to us,” he stated.

He concluded his speech with the phrase, “Jai hind, Jai Tibet” and thanked everyone who attended the ceremony on behalf of ITFA.