In the single biggest arrest of Tibetans on Nepali soil, police on Thursday night arrested hundreds of Tibetans for “illegally entering” the country.
The Tibetans were arrested on the outskirts of the capital Kathmandu near Thankot in four separate buses coming from India. According to the police, the Tibetans had failed to provide travel documents at the entry checkpoint.
While a local daily quoted Kathmandu Police Chief SP Rajendra Shrestha as putting the number of arrested Tibetans at 114 (62 men and 52 women), AP in its report put the number at 207.
The Tibetans were reportedly travelling in two buses with Indian registration numbers (BR 21 D 6555 and BR 02 Q 1387) and two buses with Nepali registrations (Na 3 Kha 413 and Na 3 Kha 2598). The Indian buses with registration initials ‘BR’ standing for the Indian state of ‘Bihar’ could indicate that the Tibetans were returning from the 32nd Kalachakra teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama which recently concluded in Bodh Gaya in Bihar.
According to latest information, the arrestees have been kept at Metropolitan Police Circle, Kalimati and are most likely to be handed over to the Department of Immigration in Kathmandu once investigations are over.
The mass arrests have come hours before Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao is scheduled to spend about five hours in Nepal on Saturday en route to his six-day tour of three Gulf nations: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
China’s ambassador to Nepal, Yang Houlan, met Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai late Thursday to inform him about the sudden visit according to reports.
Wen is scheduled to arrive at 11 a.m. and depart for Qatar at 4 p.m.
In his five-hour stint in Nepal, Wen is expected to meet Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
The premier was scheduled to visit Nepal on December 20 last year on a three-day visit but “unilaterally” cancelled the trip at the 11th hour. Speculations were rife that security concerns and fears of Tibetan exiles organising anti-China protests led to the cancellation of the trip but officials maintained the trip was delayed due to China’s “internal” reasons.
Nepal, home to more than 20,000 Tibetans, has expressed its commitment not to allow anti-Beijing protests and has intensified its crackdown on Tibetans while strictly adhering to its ‘one-China policy’.
Wen’s visit will be the first by a Chinese premier since Zhu Rongji’s visit in 2001.