Bharat Ratna for Dalai Lama, All-party MPs’ Forum demands

New Delhi: The all-party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet, which drew sharp reactions from China after its first meeting last year, passed a resolution in its second meeting demanding that the Dalai Lama be awarded the Bharat Ratna and a joint sitting of the Rajya Sabha . And the Lok Sabha should be addressed by a Buddhist spiritual leader.

Officials said earlier this month the proposals were finalized and sent to the government.

The Forum, which has members from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Janata Dal (United), lodged a protest against the Chinese government’s interference in the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama, and insisted that the people of Tibet has the right to decide on the matter.

The 10-member platform includes BJP Rajya Sabha members Sushil Modi, Ashok Bajpai, Lahar Singh Siroya and Vinay Dinu Tendulkar as well as Lok Sabha members Tapir Gao and Rajendra Agarwal.

Arunachal Pradesh MP Gao suggested a large rally in support of Tibet by the members of the forum to create awareness and draw attention to the issue. “He further suggested that the Dalai Lama address the Central Hall of Parliament on topics such as peace and compassion,” the resolution said.

The committee, headed by BJD’s Rajya Sabha member Sujit Kumar, also urged the MPs to urgently raise Tibetan issues inside and outside Parliament. The panel’s first meeting was held in December last year, after which the Chinese embassy asked lawmakers to refrain from supporting the cause of Tibetan independence.

Forum convener Kumar told ET, “We have started a signature campaign to confer Bharat Ratna to his holy Dalai Lama. Many MPs have come forward and some of them have sent video messages supporting the campaign. We will do it. Will write. The Speakers of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will convene a joint meeting which will be addressed by His Holiness.”

The members of the forum also talked about a bill supporting Tibet in the US Congress recently and said that similar bills should be introduced in the Indian Parliament. He said the forum discussed the 2014 Tibetan resettlement policy of the Union Home Ministry and urged the members to visit Tibetan settlements.

“We have requested all the MPs to approach the district administration and the respective state governments to ensure the rehabilitation of Tibet with facilities like land and roads, electrification and drinking water,” Kumar said.

As per the Tibetan Resettlement Policy of 2014, the state government has to sign a lease document and issue a tenancy certificate of rent for a period of 20 years for the land occupied by refugees. “The land occupied by Tibetan refugees should not be disrupted and they should be given welfare benefits of state government schemes. State officials have been advised to expand infrastructure and infrastructure like roads, electrification, drinking water schemes or in the vicinity of Tibetan settlements,” the 2014 Home Ministry directives said.