|Kache Lingka, the Kashmiri Mosque in Lhasa|
In his Report for September 1960, Apa Pant, the PO, mentioned the discrimination against the Kashmiri traders, known as 'Kaches’, who lived in Tibet.
After the Tibetan uprising of March 1959 and the subsequent flight of the Dalai Lama to India, the Kaches tried to leave Lhasa and return to Kashmir, as they had no future in occupied Tibet.
The new Marxist religion was not as compassionate as Buddhism.
Unfortunately, the Chinese authorities in Lhasa, argued that they all were Chinese citizens.
After more than a year of negotiations, the Communist authorities in Lhasa finally authorized them to leave the Roof of the World and return to India.
Pant however raises a question: “Why the Chinese suddenly allowed all these Kashmiri Muslims to leave Lhasa? Was it because they felt that the Kashmiri Muslims would be a misfit in the new communist pattern of life that the Chinese want to establish immediately in Tibet or was it because they thought that once these Kashmri Muslims were out of the way they could bring about the changes that they desired more quickly? Only time would show why the Chinese suddenly changed their attitude.”
Was Ladakh a part of China?
About the fate of the Indian Muslim population in Tibet, it is interesting to note that that during various meetings in Chusul, it was stated that:
Ladakh belonged to China in the past but it had been snatched away.The 1962 border war was in the horizon, but who could read the writing on the wall; certainly not VK Krishna Menon, the Indian Defence Minister or his Prime Minister, who were too preoccupied to bring Peace to the World.
Mohammad Umar Nyangroo, a Kashmiri Muslim, who had been arrested for refusing to attend the area-wise meetings organised by the Communists has reported that the detenus in jail were given education in principles of Communism and that an Officer who was in charge of the Taring prison had during the course of a talk to the detenus stated that India was an expansionist country and had illegally occupied Tawang, that the Macmahon Line was not the boundary accepted by Chinese, and that Bhutan, Sikkim and Ladakh were Chinese territories and China one day may have to fight with India for these.
Extracts for Apa Pant’s report dated October 5, 1960
1. On 2nd September the Kashmiri Muslims of Lhasa were told by the Chinese that as they were Chinese nationals they would have to make a formal application for changing their Chinese nationality to Indian and then only would they be allowed to proceed to India. They were further told that this option to apply for the change of nationality could be exercised only in September.
Consistent with our stand that the Kashmiri Muslims were Indian nationals Consul-General Lhasa advised the Kashmiri Muslims to apply for the change of nationality in the following terms: “We consider ourselves as Indian nationals but since the Chinese Government considers us Chinese nationals we hereby renounce Chinese nationality and may be given permission to proceed to India”.
But the Chinese authorities refused to accept this declaration and insisted that the only declaration they would accept would be “I wish to change my Chinese nationality and return to India”.
In view of the fact that the Kashmiri Muslims feared that in case they did not avail of the opportunity now offered they might be permanently debarred from coming into India and also keeping in view the hardships they had already undergone they decided to give a declaration in the form the Chinese authorities wanted.
Even those Kashmiri Muslims who had hitherto given the impression that they had accepted Chinese nationality approached the Chinese authorities for change of nationality with a view to proceeding to India.
This included also the half-caste Kashmiri Muslims of Lhasa. A total of about 200 Kashmiri Muslim families consisting of about 1000 men, women and children are expected to come to India.
Chinese have also informed the Kashmiri Muslims that the wives of Kashmiri Muslims either or both of whose parents were Tibetan or Chinese and husbands of Kashmiri Muslim girls either or both of whose parents were Tibetan or Chinese would also be allowed to proceed to India on Chinese Passports wherein they would be shown as traders, the validity of these passports however would be one year.
The Government of India have authorized the Consul-General, Lhasa, to permit at his discretion such foreign wives of Kashmiri Muslims to enter into India but this facility is not to be accorded to Chinese/Tibetan husbands of Kashmiri ladies.
Kashmiri Muslims have been allowed by the Chinese authorities to carry with them to India their valuables and cash as also their unsold merchandise.
2. Kashmiri Muslims who had been arrested earlier for claiming Indian nationality continue to be under detention. When the Consul-General, Lhasa took up the case with the Vice-Director of Foreign Bureau he was informed that they were Chinese nationals and would be dealt with as such according to Chinese laws.
3. Transport for the Kashmiri Muslims on payment has been provided by the Chinese authorities. Some of the poor among them have even been transported free. The first batch of 38 Kashmiri Muslims reached Gangtok during September 29/30.
4. The question arises as to why the Chinese suddenly allowed all these Kashmiri Muslims to leave Lhasa? Was it because they felt that the Kashmiri Muslims would be a misfit in the new communist pattern of life that the Chinese want to establish immediately in Tibet or was it because they thought that once these Kashmri Muslims were out of the way they could bring about the changes that they desired more quickly? Only time would show why the Chinese suddenly changed their attitude.
6. A great deal of publicity has been given in the Tibet Daily published from Lhasa to the bumper harvest of crops this year. But these reports appear to be highly exaggerated since reports continue to come in to the effect that there have been several starvation deaths in Lhasa itself and it is because of shortage of food in the rural areas that the villagers are reported to flocking to the towns in the hope that they may get food there. The Chinese authorities have, however, warned them not to flock to the towns. The Chinese have not opened any ration shops in the rural areas so far.
7. The Chinese have indicated that they would pay compensation for the properties which they have taken over but for determining the question of compensation they have evolved a novel procedure. The erstwhile owners of these properties are put on public trials (Thamzin). If the people speak well of them compensation is paid to them but if it is alleged that they have acquired property dishonestly the owners are put into jail. Some beggars and erstwhile landless labourers have been won over by the Chinese authorities by being treated leniently, these have been lodged in the dwellings of the erstwhile landlords and are well looked after and it is these men who are utilised at public trials to denounce the erstwhile property holders and as such these property holders rather than claim compensation for the property from which they have been expropriated have fled away in fear.
8. To shorten the travelling time between Lhasa and Yatung Chinese are reported to be constructing a road via Nagartse Dzong and Peda Dzong. The Gyantse-Lhasa road and Lhasa-Gartok road which are reported to be complete were, it was reported, likely to be formally opened on the 1st October. The bridge over the Brahmaputra on the Lhasa-Gartok road has yet to be completed.
9. The Panchen Lama’s father is no longer under detention and has recently been seen in a Chinese uniform and according to the Tibet Daily, has been appointed Vice-Chairman of the People’s Consultative Conference. It is further reported that he had accompanied the Panchen Lama in his visit to the new Steel Factory at Lhasa.
10. The strength of the Chinese Civilian Cadres in Lhasa is reported to have increased recently and is now estimated at 15,000. The present estimated strength of the P.L.A. is about 10,000. It is reported that the P.L.A. are being issued with heavier calibre arms.
12. It is reported that compulsory cooperative farming has been introduced in villages around Gyantse. The average plot is between 40 and 50 acres. 1/4 of the produce is paid to the tillers and the balance is carted away to the Government godowns.
13. Chinese authorities are laying great stress on the education of the people in the younger age-groups. Apart from formal education, principles of Socialism are inculcated amongst the trainees and special emphasis is paid to the dignity of manual labour.
14. It is reported that in various meetings in Chusal amongst other things it was stated that Ladakh belonged to China in the past but it had been snatched away. Mohammad Umar Nyangroo, a Kashmiri Muslim, who had been arrested for refusing to attend the areawise meetings organised by the Communists has reported that the detenus in jail were given education in principles of Communism and that an Officer who was in charge of the Taring prison had during the course of a talk to the detenus stated that India was an expansionist country and had illegally occupied, Tawang, that the Macmahon Line was not the boundary accepted by Chinese, and that Bhutan, Sikkim and Ladakh were Chinese territories and China one day may have to fight with India for these.