At the height of tension between India and China in Ladakh, a complete strike was observed in Leh and other parts of the region on Monday against strategic analyst P. Stobdan’s controversial comments on Dalai Lama.
Stobdan had questioned why the spiritual leader is not saying that land claimed by China belongs to India and not Tibet. While asking why Chinese are entering India, Stobdan had said, “Who told the Chinese that it is their land? China is far from here.”
Describing comments against Dalai Lama as offensive and disrespectful, Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) supported by other Buddhist organizations Sunday gave strike call against the former diplomat.
“All shops and other business establishment in Leh were closed,” Sh. Tsering Sangdup, deputy chairman, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh, told Outlook on phone. Reports said the strike call had complete impact in Leh and other parts of the region including Zanskar, Nobra.
Stobdan, India’s former Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, had raised questions about the Dalai Lama’s silence on China’s transgressions in eastern Ladakh saying China is intruding into Indian territory, and the Dalai Lama is "busy in prayers.”
In his opening remarks during a panel discussion on TV channel Aaj Tak on Friday, Stobdan asked volleys of questions in one go, saying, “why are Chinese coming there? Who told them it is their land? Chinese are far from there. Why Dalai Lama is not speaking? Why he is not saying this is not Tibetan territory but Indian territory.” He added, “Dalai Lama has to speak and he cannot keep focusing on his prayers while China takes away the land. It won’t work. China has come and he is silent. We have let him have a government at Dharamsala. He should offer a clarification that this is not Tibet’s land but it is India’s land."
Stobdan further said, “Is he [Dalai Lama] doing it in collaboration with China? What is it? There is some confusion in the strategy,” Stobdan says in the interview.
Stoban’s comment on Dalai Lama evoked strong reaction from the LBA and Thiksey and Diskit monasteries in Ladakh.
“He should know that His Holiness Dalai Lama has renounced Tibetan politics long ago. What kind of analyst is he if he doesn’t know Dalai Lama has renounced politics? Does he really know anything? Why he dragged His Holiness’s name unnecessarily in this controversy. Where is Tibet government and whether it exist at all that he is asking them to take a stand? What is he up to?” says PT Kunzang, President of Ladakh Buddhist Association.
“We have nothing to do with his [Stobdan's] geopolitical expertise. But why did he drag His Holiness Dalai Lama’s name in India-China issue and was it needed at all? It has hurt our sentiment. The language he has used, the way he has spoken, show his arrogance,” Kunzang said.
“How can he say what His Holiness is doing in Dharamsala. How can he say we have given him land over there,” Kunzang said.
He further said, “Dalai Lama has nothing to do with the Tibetan political affairs. We have cleared that in this stand-off, we are with the government as always. Since 1947, we have rendered our services for the country voluntarily. We say not an inch should be given to China,” Kunzang said.
In his defence Stobdan has issued a statement to the local media in Ladakh saying “in the wake of Chinese intrusion in Eastern Ladakh from early this month, I have been requested by several national and international media channels to give my expert comments. As an authority on national security issues, I have been making several geopolitical comments on the defence of Ladakh land and the nation.”
He further said, “These are my personal views on the issue and do not reflect the opinion of any organization or society. H.H the Dalai Lama is our supreme religious head who I deeply revere. I have attended several teachings including Kalachakaras initiations by him. Therefore, there is no question of profaning him from the spiritual angle. These are purely expert geopolitical comments pertaining to border-standoff with China. However, if the sentiments of some people are hurt by my comments I deeply extend apology."
Kunzang says even in apology Stobdan has used “if the sentiments of some people are hurt”. “He knows he has not hurt sentiments of some people but all Ladakhis. Even in his apology, he has confused the issue,” he said, adding, “We will see what decision would be taken on his apology,” he said.