The Tibet liberation movement has finally started, with India unapologetically pursuing the cause of an independent Tibet which is currently under Chinese occupation. And New Delhi is letting the Tibetan diaspora in India express the burning desire of an independent Buddhist kingdom of Tibet, while the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fight it out on the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, the de facto Indo-Tibetan border.
For past several decades, the issue of Tibet liberation had faded into irrelevant of sorts. But now it is becoming a global issue, and it is the supreme sacrifice of a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), Nyima Tenzin of the Special Frontier Force, an Indian covert commando force that recruits heavily from Tibetan refugees living in India. A grand military funeral, bidding goodbye to the brave heart is resurrecting the struggle for an independent Tibet.
India is making it clear that it doesn’t intend to settle for anything less than an independent Tibet that throws China out of its territory.
The grand funeral is the grandest proclamation of Tibet’s right to self-determination in recent memory. The Tibetan flag and the Indian Tricolour dominated the ocular dimension of Tenzin’s funeral, even as India gave a hero’s farewell to the ethnic Tibetan soldier. Chants of Bharat Mata ki Jai (Long Live Mother India) and Tibet Desh (Tibetan nation) resonated in Leh- the largest town in India’s Ladakh located around 200 kilometres away from the de facto Indo-Tibetan border (LAC).
When the SFF NCO Tenzin was cremated with military honours, including a gun salute, Buddhist chants reverberated in the background, indicating how the traditional Buddhist tradition of Tibet is going up in arms against occupation by a Communist China.
Nyima Tenzin was a soldier in the SFF, commonly known as ‘Establishment 22’ or the Vikas Regiment. It is a top-secret commando force, functioning under the Directorate General of Security (DGS)- a wing of India’s external intelligence agency R&AW, and little is publicly known about it. Yet, the Indian government decided to let the funeral of the SFF brave hear go public.
New Delhi is showing its intent to power Tibet’s freedom movement, effectively rescuing the ancient Buddhist kingdom from the Dragon’s clutches.
In fact, India is officially acknowledging the loss of the ethnic Tibetan soldier, and Ram Madhav, the National General Secretary of India’s ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) attended the funeral in order to pay last respects to the SFF soldier who gave the supreme sacrifice while fighting Chinese PLA troops.
In fact, Ministers from the Modi government are acknowledging NCO Tenzin’s sacrifice. Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports (Independent Charge), has also tweeted about the ethnic Tibetan soldier’s funeral. Rijiju hails from Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state which an expansionist China calls as ‘South Tibet’. This is a part of India’s deliberately unsubtle Tibet messaging.
Tibet is becoming the main issue between India and China once again, and New Delhi is doing this intentionally because of Beijing’s belligerent manoeuvres against India. For decades, India has been holding several cards against China close to its chest, but never took them out because India doesn’t believe in aggressive confrontations.
Therefore, despite frosty relations with China, India never brought up Tibet even though New Delhi has been hosting Tibetan refugees including the Dalai Lama for six decades now. The Special Frontier Force, a China-centric commando unit consisting of mainly Tibetan highlanders too was raised more than five decades ago but India never tried to antagonise China by deploying it publicly.
However, now the Indian government is fed up of Chinese transgressions and provocations, and has no qualms about using the biggest card that India continues to hold against Beijing. China’s mask has come off and New Delhi understands that there is no real reason to seek rapprochement with Beijing.
Now, as Tibetan sentiments rise in India, and other countries like the US also start speaking up about it, the global backlash against China will take shape of a sympathy wave for the Tibetan cause. And therefore, we are not really surprised that the Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials of his administration have started talking in terms of building a fortress within Tibet.
The real pushback against Chinese occupation of Tibet will however come when Tibetan Buddhists living in their homeland will get the loud and clear message that India is sending to the world. They will feel both confident when they come to know that there is a 10,000-strong commando force fighting for the Tibetan cause not too far away from them.
And the Tibetans suffering from physical Chinese occupation will feel even more agonised when they come to know that one of their brothers-in exile gave his blood while fighting Chinese troops.
China has since long insulated Tibet from the outside world, and now it is converting the entire Buddhist country into a fortress. But for how long can China cut a territory of 2.5 million square kilometres from the rest of the world? As Tibetan liberation picks up pace, the undoing of the People’s Republic of China might have as well started.