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'No Peace Gong This'
(By Harsh Kabra | Outlook | October 10, 2005)

What would have quietly passed off as a public discourse on Tibetan Buddhism turned into an unseemly display of Chinese insecurity over the Tibet issue. When Geshe Lhakdor-la, senior Tibetan Lama and author, addressed a 170-strong audience at a South Mumbai auditorium on September 27, all he did was expound on the relationship between compassion and suffering, which he stated, binds all sentient more than any religion. But this wasn't before Song Yumin, China's deputy consul general in Mumbai, tried his best to foil the talk, smelling "political interference in the affairs of China".

On what was clearly a spiritual agenda, Lhakdor-la, official translator to the Dalai Lama and director of the Dharamshala-based Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, was in Mumbai at the behest of the recently formed Dharma Rain Education Society (DRES), an organisation promoting the understanding of spiritual traditions. But less than a week before the talk, Yumin called Aspi B. Mistry, DRES secretary, and sternly asked him to cancel the talk, repeatedly referring to the speaker's affiliations with the Dalai Lama, who, said Yumin, "was using India as a base for anti-China activities".

"This is an unconventional, unwarranted, illegal and shocking interference by a senior member of the Chinese diplomatic corps in the affairs of an Indian organisation," fumed Mistry, as he pressed ahead with the lecture. Yumin maintained he was only acting in his official capacity. He told the press the consulate had been "keeping a close tab on the activities of the society because of its perceived proximity to members of the Tibetan government in exile". He even threatened direct intervention "if the society deviated from its objectives".

Mistry was earlier in the news in August last year, when as spokesperson for Friends of Tibet, a Mumbai-based group sympathetic to the Tibetan cause, he had blamed the withdrawal of the Tibetan package from the Third Eye Asian Film Festival in Mumbai to pressure brought on by the Chinese embassy.

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