Dalai Lama free to visit Arunachal: India

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) Amid the possibility of China objecting to the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, India on Thursday said the Tibetan spiritual leader was an honoured guest of India and was free to travel to any part of the country.

Answering queries from reporters here, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the Dalai Lama has visited the border state in the past too and there was nothing unusual in his visiting the state again.

“Dalai Lama is a revered spiritual figure and an honoured guest of India. He is absolutely free to travel to any part of the country. It is a fact that he has a sizeable following among the Buddhists in Arunachal Pradesh who like to seek his blessings. He has visited the state in the past as well and we see nothing unusual if he visits again,” Swarup said.

Dalai Lama has been invited to Arunachal Pradesh by state Chief Minister Pema Khandu for a visit early next year during which he is expected to visit Tawang, Itanagar and some other parts of the state.

India had earlier this week dismissed China’s protests against US Ambassador Richard Verma’s visit for the annual Tawang Festival in Arunachal Pradesh.

Beijing had said visits like that of Verma would make the border dispute between India and China more “complicated” and “sabotage” peace in the region.

Swarup had said that there was nothing unusual in Verma’s visit and noted that he had visited a state which is an integral part of the country to which the envoy was accredited.