China has placed around a dozen special security checkpoints en route to the Tibetan capital Lhasa from neighbouring Nepal to scrutinise and investigate Tibetan pilgrims returning back from Indian and Nepal.
Over 8000 Tibetan devotees attended the 32nd Kalachakra teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Indian holy town of Bodh Gaya from January 1-10.
According to sources, China has specially set up twelve security checkpoints from the town of Dram (Ch:Zhangmu) at the Nepal-Tibet border all the way till Lhasa.
“We heard that pilgrims are being stopped, harassed and threatened at gun point,” a Tibetan pilgrim from Tibet told Phayul. “It is really frightening to return back but there is nothing much we can do about it,” the Tibetan said on conditions of anonymity.
Another Tibetan pilgrim, facing similar threats, said she had planned to return after a week but has now postponed her journey back home.
“I have visa till March, so I am going to wait for some more time,” she said. “Hopefully the security situation on the road will change”.
According to the official website of the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Chinese security officials have been forcefully confiscating medicines and religious artefacts being carried by the pilgrims.
“Even rosaries which are carried by almost every Tibetan are being snatched away,” CTA reported citing sources from Tibet.
The special checkpoints are said to have been placed by the Chinese Public Security Bureau.
Earlier in Nepal, coinciding with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s short stopover in the Himalayan Kingdom, Kathmandu had detained over 200 Tibetans entering Nepal from India and issued a three-day deadline for them to return back to Tibet, even though many had visas till March.
Adding to the fears of the special security checkpoints, reports have confirmed China’s plans of once again shutting down Tibet from the outside world.
The duration of the ban, from mid-February to late March, encompasses two important events; the Tibetan New Year from February 22-24 and the Tibetan national uprising day commemorated on March 10.