New Delhi: Even as the stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers continues in one part of the Himalayas, Lobsang Sangay, head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, unfurled the Tibetan national flag on the shores of Pang Gong lake in Ladakh.
The lake, located at over 14,000 feet, sits astride India and China, with the Line of Actual Control passing through it.
Speaking to The Wire, Sonam Norbu Dagpo, spokesperson of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), said that this was the first time the independent Tibet flag had been unfurled by Lobsang Sangay at that important location.
“This is the first visit by the CTA president to Ladakh and, therefore, the first time that he offered prayers, hoisted the prayer flag and hoisted the national flag by himself at the lake,” he said.
He stressed that while this was Sangay’s first visit, other top Tibetan political leaders, who headed earlier iterations of the CTA, had visited Pang Gong lake previously. “But at that time, there was no media coverage like now,” he said.
Dagpo pointed out that the location has special meaning for the Tibetan community. “As you know, half the lake is in India, and half the Tibet,” he added. Consequently, he said that the hoisting of the national flag has “political and personal significance” for Sangay.
In fact, the official Indian position is that the area is part of Jammu and Kashmir, India, and not a part of Tibet/China.
When asked if any go-ahead signal was taken from the Indian authorities, Dagpo asserted, “I don’t think any permission is required to hoist the Tibetan national flag”.
Coming amid the ongoing stand-off between India and China in Doklam, the hoisting of the Tibetan flag on Indian territory could be seen as ‘political activity’, something Delhi has discouraged in the past.