Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Dalai Lama arrives in India: the border conflict with China starts

The Dalai Lama arrives in India (March 31, 1959)
Year 1959 was a turning for Tibet, but also for the Sino-Indian relations.
A turn for the worse for both, as in any case, the two are intimately linked.
I have posted on my website, a large number of archival 'declassified' documents, often difficult to find, on the happenings during year 1959.
It is called: “The 1959 Tibetan Uprising and its consequences”.
If you find time, read some of these historical documents.
There is no doubt that the events in Lhasa in March 1959, culminating by the uprising of the Tibetan ‘masses’ on March 10 and the subsequent flight to the Dalai Lama to India, triggered a chain of violent reactions from the part of the People’s Republic of China, which eventually ended in an open conflict in NEFA (today Arunachal Pradesh) and Ladakh in October 1962.
The correspondence between Jawaharlal Nehru the Indian Prime Minister and Zhou Enlai shows the rapid deterioration of the India-China relations after the Dalai Lama was offered asylum in April 1959.
Events in Ladakh with India realizing that China had built the Aksai Chin road across Indian territory, and in NEFA’s Subansiri Frontier Division (Longju) or Kameng Frontier Division (Khenzimani), are all collaterals of the Tibetans' arrival in India.

A ‘SECRET IMMEDIATE’ telegram (No. 4484- Circular) sent by India’s Foreign Secretary Subimal Dutt to all the Indian Missions abroad in August clearly shows the linkage.
Here is the text of the Foreign Secretary's message dated August 30, 1959:
We have transmitted to you by morse cast full text of the statement made by the Prime Minister in Parliament yesterday on the Chinese intrusion into our northern frontier in Ladakh and in the NEFA region. During recent weeks there has been mounting evidence of Chinese unfriendliness towards India. This has been causing concern to the Government and the people of India and there have been frequent questions in Parliament on the subject. There is also animated discussion in the press and despite our efforts at moderation Indian feelings are bound to be expressed in stronger language if the Chinese persist in their present course of action.

2. The Government of India attach importance to the maintenance of good relations and friendship with China and have always been anxious to do so. We can only attribute the present truculent mood of the Chinese authorities to their resentment at our having given asylum to the DALAI LAMA and the Tibetan refugees. Under international usage we could not refuse such asylum. There is not the slightest truth in the Chinese allegations that the recent disturbances in Tibet were directed from Kalimpong or that the Government or India are in some unexplained way responsible for these happenings. In fact we had nothing to do with the internal troubles in Tibet and were unaware of the Whereabouts of the DALAI LAMA until he had reached our border. As the Prime Minister made it clear in his statement before Parliament on April 27, India has no political interest in Tibet. We would naturally like to preserve our traditional cultural connections with Tibet and also to maintain, if possible, the age-old pilgrim traffic and trade with Tibet in the border areas. We have accepted Chinese suzerainty over Tibet and there is no question of our going back on it. At the same time the DALAI LAMA as the leader of a large section of Buddhists is held in respect by large masses of people in India and it is natural that the circumstances in which he had to seek shelter in India evoked the sympathies of large masses of people in India and several other countries in Asia. Under our Constitution Government cannot control discussions in the press or among the public on happenings, in other countries. Our Parliament is also sovereign within its sphere and questions in Parliament could not be suppressed by Government even if they wished to do so. We therefore consider it unreasonable on the part of the Chinese to expect us to suppress discussions on Tibet within the country or to regard such discussions as evidence of unfriendliness. We have already made it clear to the DALAI LAMA and the Tibetan refugees that we cannot recognize any Tibetan Government in India nor would we permit them to carry on hostile propaganda against any friendly country. At the same time it is not feasible under our constitutional procedures to gag the DALAI LAMA entirely. To suggest that the DALAI LAMA’S statements are being made with our previous knowledge or have our approval is entirely untrue. A year ago when the Chinese brought to our notice the alleged undesirable activities of some Tibetan refugees in our country, we took appropriate action and warned these people. In all our dealings with the DALAI LAMA and the Tibetan refugees we have been mindful of the need of avoiding needless irritation to the Chinese Government.

3. Unfortunately the Chinese have completely ignored our repeated reiteration of friendship for them. On the contrary they have adopted a policy of deliberate unfriendliness towards us.

4. Under the Sino-Indian Agreement of 1954 our Trade Agencies in Tibet are entitled to certain facilities. These have been denied by and large. Our Trade Agents are unable to secure suitable accommodation, the bag service between our Posts stands interrupted and they are being harassed in various small ways. A large number of persons of Indian origin have been resident in Lhasa for long years but have all the same maintained their separate group identity. Since before 1954 movement between India and Tibet was more or less tree and no documents of identity were required, these people had not taken up citizenship papers with them. They are now being prevented from contacting our Consulate and threatened with other unpleasant consequences. Similarly Indian traders in the border areas who were guaranteed certain facilities under the 1954 Agreement are finding it difficult to carry on their trade in view of many restrictions which have recently been imposed.

5. What is even more serious, the Chinese have launched on an active policy of violation of international frontier and intrusion into our territory. Large areas of Indian territory in the frontier region have been shown in the Chinese maps in the past as part of Chinese territory. We repeatedly drew the attention of the Chinese authorities to this incorrect representation of facts. Although Premier CHOU EN-LAI assured our Prime Minister in personal, discussions in 1956-57 that they would in practice respect the existing border even though they could not accept it as legally valid, the Chinese Premier seems to have gone back on this position in the correspondence which took place between December last year and February this year. In his letter of January 23, discussing the so-called McMahon Line in the north-east border, Premier CHOU EN-LAI referred to various complex factors and the need for surveys and consultations with the countries concerned etc. and left the matter rather vague. Our Prime Minister wrote a detailed letter to him on this subject in February this year. This letter still remains unanswered. We had however hoped that in the meantime the traditional border would be respected. This hope has not been fulfilled. On the contrary, a number of incidents have taken place last year and this year which have caused concern and resentment in India. At the end of July a strong Chinese detachment came into our territory in the Ladakh frontier and arrested a small Indian reconnaissance party within our area. Strong Chinese detachments also came into our territory at a number of places in the north-east frontier across the so-called, McMahon Line within the last few weeks. Only 4 days ago they fired on one of our frontier outposts and overran it and occupied a portion of our territory. We have still no information about our personnel who were manning that post. We have to resist such illegal intrusion into our territory and for any unfortunate consequences resulting from our defensive measures the responsibility must be that of the Chinese Government.

6. We deplore the present situation. It is to the interest of both China and India and world peace in general that India and China should remain firm friends. Unfortunately, although we have sent a large number of notes and representations to the Chinese Government, most of them remain unanswered. We can only attribute the present Chinese policy to serious misunderstanding of our intentions towards Tibet, but we hope other countries will not be misled by Chinese propaganda. We understand that Chinese have in fact started insidious propaganda against India among socialist and non-aligned countries.

7. We would like you to explain our policy and attitude to the Government to which you are accredited.

A special note for K.P.S. Menon, the Indian Ambassador to Soviet Union reads: “We would like you to explain our position as in the foregoing paragraphs if possible to Mr. KHRUSHCHEV personally. If you want any further information, please let us know immediately. We also propose to speak to the Soviet Ambassador here.”

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