It is yet again a sad moment for us as we condole the tragic and untimely demise of H.E. Dorjee Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, who was killed in a chopper crash with four others at Lobothang near Tawang.
For the last couple of days, we prayed for his life after his chopper went missing in the rough terrains of Tawang. Thousands of armed personals, local volunteers and government officials went on search for days in a wet and rugged mountains. Indian Air Force Mi17 choppers and Sukhoi jets were also deployed. The Satellite images were also used to narrow down the search mission. But, the rough weather and rain halted the operation in between. Unfortunately, on 04 May, his charred body was discovered along with others at the height of 4,900 metres amidst the debris of chopper.
On that very morning, I was working on my computer like any other normal day with some hope that Khandu will be back fine and fit with others. All of a sudden, My friend buzzed me in my facebook and texted me ‘Sad News’. I was shocked!! It is indeed a very sad news to not only the people of Arunachal Pradesh, but also the Tibetan People. We loss one of our true friend, who was with us during the difficult times. Those friends are hard to find and we will miss him dearly.
Going back the memory lane, I had a chance of working one time with H.E. Dorjee Khandu, when the people of Himalayan States organized 74th Birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Mavlankar Hall in Delhi in 2009. A day before the function, Dorjee Khandu visited the venue early to inspect and even instructed his cultural troupes to rehearse and perform well. He spent times out of his busy working schedule to discuss the preparation with other members of the organizing committee. Since that time, I eulogize him for his down to earth character, who remained as the leader of common people. Since that time, I saw his unwavering faith and devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a perfect disciple. Indeed, Arunachal Pradesh cultural troupe stole the show with their fabulous traditional dances. All credit goes to H.E. Dorjee Khandu.
As a background, Khandu belongs to a Monpa community and born in Gyangkhar village of Tawang. He was an ardent Buddhist and a staunch follower of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He had deep interest and empathy for the Tibetan Cause. Kashag rightly credited him in their condolence message, “he has brought immense development and improvement in the lives of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and the Tibetans living there in peace and harmony”.
Last night, I tried to dig into some of the news archives of Late Dorjee Khandu and his association with Tibet so that I can put it as a tribute to him. Here are some of the pieces, which I found.
January 07, 2008, Drepung Loseling Monastery’s new temple was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Mundgod, South India. His Excellency Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Dorjee Khandu attended the ceremony.
January 23, 2008, Dorjee Khandu told Indian Express that “We only had a border with Tibet and not China and we have documents to support this. the claims are baseless,” dismissing China’s territorial claim.
In 2008, Dorjee Khandu advised the local people to pray for the Tibetans inside Tawang monastery, when the mass uprising happened in Tibet.
April 06, 2008 Dorjee Khandu told reporters “We are concerned about what is happening in Tibet … We have ensured that calm prevails in the state,”
Dorjee Khandu had led a 20-member delegation, comprising BJP Lok Sabha member Kiren Rijiju, Tawang MLA Tsewang Dhondup, Lumla MLA T.G. Rinpoche, to Dharmashala to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama to express solidarity with the suffering Tibetans and to invite His Holiness to Tawang.
July 06, 2009, The people of Himalayan region, including those living in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Uttrakhand, expressed gratitude to His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his 74th birthday celebration at a function in New Delhi at Mavlankar Hall. Dorjee Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh attended the function, themed “50 years of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India: A tribute of gratitude from the people of Himalayan region on the occasion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 74th birthday”
September 21, 2009, Few days before Arunachal election, Dorjee Khandu stated “From centuries, Tibet and we share the same border. We have no border issues with China. China’s claim on Arunachal is all bogus,”
October 2009, Arunachal Youth Federation questioned Dorjee Khandu’s ‘close affinity with Dalai Lama and his cultural and social similarity and his deep concerned for the Tibet causes”, which they felt tremendous insecurity and dear psychosis.
08 November 2009, Dorjee Khandu invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang to inaugurate a hospital. His Holiness claimed his visit to Tawang apolitical. Dorjee Khandu condemned China’s criticism and said Beijing had no right to interfere in India’s internal matters.His Holiness will be accorded with the honour of State Guest.”
November 30, 2010, The Buddhist cultural society, Itanagar celebrated Ganden Ngamchoe. The programme featured the release of DVD on 5th visit of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Tawang by Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu.
We pray for his bereaved family members and the government and people of Arunachal Pradesh in this hour of grief. We loss our true friend of Tibet.
Om Mani Padme Hum.