One of India’s brightest young leaders and Chief Minister of the Indo-Tibet border state of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah has come out in support of New Delhi’s recent decision not to kowtow to China’s pressure over the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.
Speaking at an event in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, Saturday evening, Omar, who has met the Dalai Lama on several occasions, urged New Delhi to be tough on China in the future as well.
“At a recent event, the government stood up and said that they will not postpone Dalai Lama’s function in Delhi because the Chinese were coming there to hold border talks. I wish this is a position we take more often,” Omar told a gathering of political bigwigs, senior businessmen, and cinema and theatre personalities.
“I wish India shows some spine while dealing with China,” he added.
Expressing concern over China’s incursions into Indian territory and a reported “war scale” military build up across the border, Omar questioned China’s insistence on “One China” policy while raising doubts over India’s sovereignty.
“Why should they call into question Arunachal Pradesh’s status? Why should they call into question parts of Jammu and Kashmir. They are illegal occupants of parts of my state. They need to accept that,” Omar, who is a part of the ruling UPA, stated.
“I think that for far too long we have been apologetic, both in terms of our relationship with Pakistan and also China which we don’t need to be. I think we should deal with China on an equal footing,” he asserted to a thunderous applause from the gathering.
Support for the exiled Tibetan leader has come from all corners of the Indian political spectrum, cutting across social and ideological lines.
While MP Derek O Brien of the Trinamool Congress personally greeted the Dalai Lama in Kolkata against the advice of the Chinese government, BJP, India’s largest opposition party blasted China for interfering in India’s affairs and suggested a protest be lodged with the Chinese Ambassador.
BJP spokesperson and MP Tarun Vijay asserted that China’s advice to West Bengal government not to welcome and not to attend the Dalai Lama’s programme was “unacceptable”.
“We condemn it as a direct intervention in our national affairs. Government of India should call the Chinese Ambassador to lodge its protest,” he said while maintaining that China’s rising “arrogance” was “bruising Indian sentiments”.