When Indian villagers were celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6, Chinese soldiers and some civilians appeared on the other side of the Sindu river in the Demchuk region of Ladakh, waving banners and displaying Chinese flags in protest.
The Chinese arrived in five trucks, with Army personnel and civilians, and raised banners outside the village community centre, where the Dalai Lama’s birthday was being commemorated, the India Today reported.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had greeted the Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday last week. Since becoming Prime Minister in 2014, this is the first time Narendra Modi has openly confirmed communicating with the Dalai Lama.
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, PM Modi said, “Spoke on phone to His Holiness the @DalaiLama to convey greetings on his 86th birthday. We wish him a long and healthy life.”
Last week, Penpa Tsering, the president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said that the Dalai Lama will visit Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Covid-19 crisis stabilised.
PM Modi’s tweet signals a major shift in India’s Tibet policy vis-à-vis China, as well as a powerful message to Beijing. On the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, the Indian government did not send greetings to China. Since April-May last year, India and China have been locked in a military standoff and have yet to find a way to de-escalate tensions at key flashpoints such as the Hot Springs-Gogra heights.