R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Jan 3 - Though the Government of India is trying to provide citizenship to the Hindu Bangladeshi migrants who came to India six years back, the Tibetans including the Dalai Lama, who were forced to take shelter in India way back in 1959 following Chinese occupation of Tibet, are still not treated as Indian citizens and all the Tibetans staying in India are only given a resident certificate and their descendents born in India are also not treated as the citizens of the country.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs told The Assam Tribune that till date, India does not have a clear cut refugee policy and as per law the country has two sets of foreigners – those who came with valid papers and those who came illegally. The case is different with the Tibetans as they are given resident certificates and they have to renew it every five years. Even the Dalai Lama has to renew his resident certificate every five years.
Sources revealed that at present, there are around 1.50 lakh Tibetans living in India and immediately after their arrival in India, they have to register themselves with the concerned District Foreigners’ Registration Officers. Some of the Tibetans just visit India to meet the Dalai Lama and they return thereafter. But most of them want to stay back and they are given a resident certificate, which they have to renew in every five years. The Tibetans coming to India also register themselves with the Central Tibetan Administration office in Dharamsala and every Tibetan living in India is accounted for, which is not the case with the Hindus from Bangladesh, who migrated into India illegally.
Sources said that the Tibetans staying in India are not allowed voting rights and they cannot acquire immovable properties. Of course, there have been a few instances of Tibetans acquiring properties in names of Indian citizens, but such cases are negligible.
The descendants of the Tibetan migrants, who are born in India, are also not treated as Indian citizens. After such descendants become 16 years old, they are given a separate identity document, but that is not citizenship. Giving an example, sources said that the President of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Dr Lobsang Sangey was born in India but he is not treated as an Indian citizen.
When the Tibetans living in India have to travel abroad, they have to apply for visa from the country they wish to visit with identity documents provided by the Government of India , which is called “Yellow passport”. But that is not a proper passport of India. The Dalai Lama also has to go through the same process when he travels abroad, sources added.