‘First Tibetan Passport Found in Nepal’
by Baldev S Chauhan
(The Hindu | April 02, 2004)
Tibetan refugees in India are delighted after Tibet's first passport
was found in Nepal after it was lost 12 years ago from an eastern
Indian hill station. The passport, issued 57 years ago, was handed
over to the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama earlier this week,
said an official of the Tibetan government in exile in this Himachal
"Finding this passport is significant as it is an important
historical record which shows that several countries of the world
recognised Tibet as an independent country and issued visas to the
bearer of the passport Tsepon Shakabpa," said Lobsang Tsultrin of
the department of information, Central Tibetan Administration. "The
passport issued to Shakabpa, the then secretary of finance (1930-50)
by the Cabinet of Tibet, Lhasa on Oct 10, 1947, bears the official
stamps of India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy,
Switzerland and France. These countries issued visas to him,"
Tsultrin told IANS.
The official said a delegation of five Tibetans were given passports
by Lhasa at the time, but this was the only one left — evidence of
Tibet's independence and its recognition by the outer world. "The
passport has been slightly damaged by silver fish but bears the
entire information including the stamps," he said. The document
was lost from the Shakabpa's home after his death in the town of
Kalimpong in West Bengal and made its way into Nepal.
The document was recovered in Nepal from an antique dealer by
the Friends of Tibet (India) who for the past one year have
been collecting objects of historical importance belonging to
independent Tibet. These will be showcased in an exhibition 'Story
of a nation: Independent, occupied and exiled Tibet'. The antique
dealer reportedly sold the document at a lower price after he was
informed about its importance and that it would be handed over to
the Dalai Lama.
Shakabpa is the author of several books, including "Tibet: A
political history". He was the Dalai Lama's official representative
in New Delhi until 1966.