Friday, August 10, 2012

Dalai Lama Stirs Controversy In Kashmir

The Dalai Lama: "Kashmiri people should live peacefully and if there is any problem, dialogue is the only way [to resolve issues]. Violence is in nobody's interest. A peaceful way is essential," he said in Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar.

Kashmiri separatist leaders have said that the spiritual leader allowed this visit to be hijacked by the Indian government, as he overlooked the grim reality of human-rights abuses in the region.

"We respect the Dalai Lama ... However, peace cannot prevail till justice is done," Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference political front, told a local news agency. Faroog said that the spiritual leader's failure to meet local civil society members and mention Kashmiris killed by Indian security forces was a disappointment to many.

"He did not interact with people, neither did he meet civil society members, rights workers or different shades of political leadership. He did not talk about injustice, killings and human-rights violations," said Faroog.

Another Kashmiri leader, Syed Ali Gilani, said the Dalai Lama was being used as a tool by the Indian government. "He should have cleared the very basics about Kashmir and then talked to different sections of society. He is appeasing New Delhi. He should have cleared the very basics about Kashmir and then talked to different sections of society. He is appeasing New Delhi by his utterances."

Avoiding the separatist issue, the Dalai Lama spent much of his trip meeting high-ranking Indian officials, interacting with students at the Tibetan Public School and visiting Buddhist sites.

Some Kashmiris say that as a champion of Tibet's right to self-determination, the spiritual leader could have done more to highlight their plight.

"The Dalai Lama came to Kashmir and chose to remain silent; it was more like a tourist visit to the valley as he didn't speak of any politics. As he was kept away from the public eye in Kashmir, the people fighting the cause of Kashmiri freedom were not allowed to meet him just for the reason that they might persuade him to speak out the truth," said Basharat Ali, director of the Kashmir Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.

"The Dalai Lama did not make even a cursory mention of the abuses and oppression faced by the common Kashmiri. This caused a lot of heartbreak in the valley among those looking for a show of solidarity," said Dawar Dedmari, a young Kashmiri engineer.

Apparently, the Dalai Lama, a long-staying guest in India who once called himself a "son of India", did not want to irritate his host, which uses exiled Tibetans as a leverage against China. This is perhaps the fundamental reason for his caution on commenting on the Kashmir issue.

Via: "Asia Times Online"

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