Some 1,000 Tibetan in India have registered themselves with the Election Commission ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh. This has left many in the Tibetan community apprehensive about how this will affect their ongoing struggle for a free Tibet.
Information accessed by TOI from Tibetan settlements in McLeodganj, which is the capital of Tibetan government-in-exile, the Nanchen Tibetan division, Bir Tibetan division and Dege division in Bir Billing area of the state has seen most of the Tibetan voters registered for the upcoming polls. The total population of Tibetan refugees in this area is around 22,000, which is second highest in India after Karnataka’s Bylakuppe town. “Our only aim is to struggle for regaining our country. If we mingle with local political systems, there are chances that our people may be diverted from the main aim. There is no doubt that India has done more than enough for us but we can’t afford to deviate from our purpose”, says Sonam, head of Nangchen division of Tibetan settlement in Bir Billing.
Dawa Rinchen, head of the largest Tibetan settlement in Mcleodganj, says that Tibetans are in dilemma on the issue because the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has not asked or encouraged anyone to register as voters.
“Most of those registered are local businessmen, school teachers and shopkeepers who have personal reasons to do so. Other Tibetans think that they must not divert from the original cause,” said Dawa. He, however, has registered himself as a voter after the Dharamshala administration nominated him as councilor in the municipal corporation of Dharamshala.