Say nothing against China, Ulfa tells Dalai ahead of N-E visit

29 March 2017

A faction of the banned Assamese terror group ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam) has issued a statement telling the Dalai Lama not to say anything against China during his upcoming visit to the Northeast.

Two years ago ULFA-1, as it is known, had declared "friendship" with China, and its leader Paresh Baruah has reportedly taken shelter in China.

Insisting that the 81-year-old spiritual leader should mind what he says, the militant outfit which insists that Assam is culturally closer to China said it "won't tolerate India's views to be propagated from Assam's soil".

The warning comes days after China voiced its displeasure over the proposed visit, saying by allowing it, India was risking "serious damage" in the ties between the two nations. China has repeatedly claimed that the Nobel laureate - who is also the political leader of the Tibetan diaspora in India - is a separatist or ''splittist''.

In its open letter, ULFA (I) urged Dalai Lama "not to utter" any words in "private or public" against China. "China has always been a friendly neighbour of ours and the relationship between China and Assam is truly very deep in linguistic and cultural heritage of the two nations," ULFA(I) president Abhizeet 'Asom' Barman wrote in the letter.

Assam Police and other security forces believe Ulfa-I will try to create trouble in the run-up to the Dalai Lama's visit. All districts have been asked to be on high alert during the Tibetan leader's stay in the region.

"We have details of his (Paresh Baruah's) exact shelter house at Ruili town in the Dehong Prefecture region of Yunan province in southern China. He is an expert at pitching tent on foreign soil - first in Bhutan, then in Bangladesh, Myanmar and China," a security source told The Times of India.

Mukul Hazarika, alias Abhizeet 'Asom' Barman, who signed the letter, is wanted by the National Investigating Agency on charges of waging war against India for secession. Barman, in his letter, warned the spiritual leader that his plan to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh "despite China objecting" is "unwise" and "a cause of great concern to us". Should a war break out between China and India, Tibet and Assam would stand to suffer, he added.

China had earlier warned of "severe damage" to Indo-Chinese bilateral ties when the Dalai Lama had announced his visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims to be a part of its territory and calls "southern Tibet".

The Dalai Lama, who is going on a tour of the northeast, will start his visit with Assam on 1 April. He is expected to visit Tawang, a Buddhist majority town in Arunachal Pradesh that China lays claim to, sometime after 4 April. Union minister Kiren Rijiju is expected to accompany him.

The Chinese foreign ministry has said India was "fully aware of the seriousness of the Dalai issue and the sensitivity of China-India border question".

"Under such background if India invites the Dalai to visit to the mentioned territory, it will cause serious damage to peace and stability of border region and China-India relations," its spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier this month.

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