When the Dalai Lama Met Prime Minister Nehru in 1959
Extract from the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru
The Dalai Lama, [Nehru] added, should be allowed to live in peace. “You must remember that during the last month the Dalai Lama had to undertake a very big and difficult journey and the circumstances of the journey were also painful to the Dalai Lama. So it is only proper that the Dalai Lama should get an opportunity in a peaceful atmosphere to consult his colleagues on the ups and downs in Tibet and get over the mental strain.”
Record of Prime Minister's Meeting with the Dalai Lama on April 24 1959
(Mussoorie, 1520 hours to 1920 hours, Subimal Dutt papers, NMML)
After the usual greetings, Prime Minister enquired from the Dalai Lama whether he has had some rest after his hard journey. The Dalai Lama replied that he has had two days of rest after arriving in Mussoorie and felt much better.
P.M. conveyed Indira Gandhi's personal greetings to the D.L. and the D.L. thanked him for it.
D.L. then expressed his great pleasure in meeting the P.M. once again after an absence of two years. D.L. said that he has been looking forward to this meeting, especially in view of the troubles that had overtaken Tibet. His Holiness thanked the P.M. for the special officers he had sent to meet him and for all the sympathy he had expressed regarding the Tibetan cause. D.L. mentioned that he was not going to repeat all that he had said to Mr P.N. Menon [India’s Consul-General in Tibet] since it must have been duly conveyed to the P.M.
P.M. [:] Yes, I know the background.
D.L. [:] I wish to tell Your Excellency something more in this occasion. The story of Tibet up to 1956 is well known. In 1957, during D.L.'s visit to India, he had the benefit of detailed talks with the P.M. and in the light of those talks the D.L. had tried on his return to Tibet to improve relations with Chinese authorities.
On his way back to Lhasa, at Gyantse he had spoken to his Tibetan officers that although spiritually Tibet was advanced, they were in the material field very backward and that the Chinese were coming up with modern ideas and, therefore, economic and social reforms were inevitable.
D.L. himself welcomed such reforms, but was of the view that they should be in accordance with the wishes of the Tibetan people. Since the Chinese had announced that they were endeavouring to improve the social, economic and cultural standards of the Tibetan people, it should be welcomed so long as it was not carried out against the wishes of the Tibetan people. That was the fundamental criterion by which all reform measures in Tibet were to be judged.
When the D. L. had gone back to Lhasa, he told all his Tibetan officers of the Preparatory Committee that when the autonomous Governmental set up is brought into force, the Government of Tibet will have to be carried on by the Tibetan people themselves and that till they have adequate trained personnel carrying out the various activities of the Government, they should accept guidance from the Chinese Government.
It was, of course, understood that in the long run the Tibetan people themselves would run their own Government.
These declarations of the D.L. created a good feeling and strengthened the nationalist sentiment of the Tibetan people. These suggestions of the D.L., which were first expressed at Gyantse were brought to the notice of Tibetan students studying in the national minority institutions in China proper.
P.M. enquired how these ideas of the D.L. were conveyed to these Tibetan students and the D.L’s reply was that Tibetans who went to China and met the students, conveyed them.
D.L. continued to say that afterwards Tibetan students in minority schools in Peking, etc., thought that this was good principle to be followed. The students, therefore, suggested to their Chinese teachers that further instructions to them should be on these lines, viz., to make them capable of standing on their own legs and running their own Government in Tibet.
P.M. [:] Before this, were the Tibetan students satisfied with the instructions given to them?
D.L. [:] They were not satisfied entirely, because they were not being taught about the history and culture of Tibet. Since then (1956-57) Tibetan students started asking for more lectures on Tibetan culture, religion, history, etc., just like the study of Chinese history, culture, etc., which they were already undertaking.
D.L. said that “I have mentioned to Mr Menon about these matters and he can explain them to P.M., if necessary.”
D.L. continued: It was his hope as well as that of his government to improve Tibet further. They told the Chinese that whatever programme of reform was envisaged should be first checked and discussed with Tibetan officials, so that there was no defect or flaw in them while implementing them.
The rebellion against the Chinese had already started in 1956-57 and by the time D.L. returned to Lhasa, the Tibetan people were alarmed at the drastic action taken by the Chinese against the Khampas.
The troubles started in Kham because the Chinese wanted to push the pace of reform considerably; when the Chinese found that the people were not satisfied with them and their policies, they tried to make some slight changes by reducing their own staff (civil cadres) – a minor form of retrenchment.
The news from Kham steadily became worse and worse and D.L. felt this minor modification in policy in Tibet was a direct result of this. D.L. and the Tibetan Government tried hard to come to terms with Chinese.
P.M. [:] When did the Kham troubles actually start?
D.L. [:] By the end of 1955.
P.M. [:] So, there was trouble at the time of D.L.'s visit to India?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] Is Kham in the Chinese part or Tibetan part of Tibet?
D.L. [:] The troubles started in the Chinese part and by 1957 had spread to the Tibet part of Kham.
P.M. [:] How did the troubles originally start?
D.L. [:] The Chinese pushed ahead with their “liberation policy” in the southern area (Sadam) in 1956. The revolt of the population in Sadam sparked the uprising in Kham and spread to Lithang, and Chating as the reforms attempted were clearly intolerable to the people there.
P.M. [:] Was this in Tibet proper?
D.L. [:] No.
P.M. [:] Was the reform agrarian?
D.L. [:] It also included agrarian reforms.
D.L. then said that on account of this violent reaction of the people, the Chinese started saying in Tibet that they would carry out such reforms only in Chinese areas; they would introduce them only later in Tibet.
P.M. [:] When did they say this?
D.L. [:] Before they held a meeting in 1954-55 at Tachienlu, they had said that such a reform will not be carried out in Tibet on the ground that since religion and traditional culture was deep-rooted there, any reform in Tibet will be with reference to the wishes of the people themselves.
P.M. [:] Reforms. What does it mean?
D.L. [:] Agrarian, economic, social and other reforms.
P.M. [:] Rebellion in Kham was the direct result of these reforms and because the people there did not like them?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] What did the Chinese do? Crush the rebellion?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] Was there much fighting?
D.L. [:] There was a very great fight. Many Chinese were killed.
P.M. [:] Many Chinese killed? How many? I mean numbers.
D.L. [:] There was a great fight.
After some thought, D.L. said that in 1958 about 20,000 Chinese were killed in Kham. D.L. again said that sporadic fighting still continues in Chinese Kham.
P.M. [:] What were the casualties in the Khampa side? — heavy?
D.L. [:] The Chinese loss is greater than that of the Tibetan side.
P.M. [:] How is that?
D.L. [:] One Khampa can fight with ten Chinese.
P.M. [:] The Chinese have good arms and how is this possible?
D.L. explained that the Khampa's superiority lay in close-in fighting. Their tactics were not to exchange many shots until the Chinese got very close and then the Khampas fought very well.
P.M. [:] Where do the Khampas get arms from?
D.L. [:] Since ages they have been an armed people. They have further captured arms from the Chinese.
P.M. [:] The rebellion was in the Kham on the Chinese side and then it spread to the Tibet part, although the reforms had not been introduced in the Tibetan part?
D.L. [:] Yes, because the Chinese started using strong words only recently and did not initiate reforms.
P.M. [:] During the Kham troubles, did the Chinese use aerial bombing?
D.L. [:] Yes, many monasteries were damaged.
P.M. [:] In Chinese or Tibetan area?
D.L. [:] Damage was done in the Chinese area of Kham.
P.M. [:] After that?
D.L. [:] Since the great troubles in Lhasa recently, great damage has also been caused there.
D.L. continued: After the destruction of monasteries in Kham, monks of Kham fled their towns and villages and took to hills and the Chinese started anti-religious propaganda there.
P.M. [:] When did this revolt spread to Tibetan areas?
D.L. [:] By the middle of 1957, viz. by the time D.L. returned.
P.M. [:] What did the D.L. do about that?
D.L. [:] In 1956, Gyawa Karmapa (head of the Red Hat Sect) and Ngapho Shape were sent to Kham to tell the people there to be peaceful. By 1958 the situation became much more tense in Kham and there was more Chinese aerial bombing and a stepping up of blasphemous anti religious propaganda in these areas.
P.M. [:] What kind of blasphemous anti-religious propaganda? Was it done through papers or by speeches of leaders, etc.?
D.L. [:] In papers and in talks. The talks were started in the Committee, which considered the question of introducing communes in Kham and Kokonor areas. They said religion was very bad and introduced by a very bad man. So, Lamas should be eradicated in order to achieve real progress.
P.M. [:] During this time, did the Chinese discuss the situation about the rebellion with D.L.?
D.L. [:] Yes. The topic of talk was that only a small number of people were involved and it was, therefore, easily suppressed.
P.M. [:] To begin with, but when the troubles dragged on, what did they say?
D.L. [:] Whenever there was any contact with the Chinese, they played down the rebellion and D.L. got his information about the extent of the troubles from other sources.
P.M. [:] Did they ever ask for D.L.'s support to suppress the rebellion?
D.L. [:] Never.
P.M. [:] Even on the Tibetan side did they not ask for support?
D.L. [:] Only after the troubles took place in Lhoka and Tsangareas, they asked.
D.L. enquired at this stage, how much more time the P.M. could spare him. P.M. replied about one and a half hours.
D.L. [:] So shortly religious activities in Kham and Amdo areas were completely stopped and Khampas on the Chinese side of Kham are suffering very much in consequence.
P.M. [:] Have they suppressed the revolt completely?
D.L.[:] Very heavily suppressed. But guerilla fighting is going on although all inhabited areas have now been occupied by Chinese.
D.L. continued: By 1958 the Chinese started anti-religious propaganda in Lhasa itself. Usually, the Tibetan papers published in Kantze and Kokonor were never received in Lhasa. These papers were intentionally brought to Lhasa in 1958, so that people would study them. Although the Chinese tried to censor Kham news, the bad news from there spread to the rest of Tibet and the Chinese intention to harm the religion made the Tibetan people most unhappy.
Although autonomy is said to have been given to Tibet, it is a sham autonomy. All suggestions come from the Chinese themselves and the Tibetans have to sign on the dotted line. By the end of last year, the people in Tibet changed their attitude towards the Chinese. It became worse by early this year.
An invitation to D.L. to attend a theatrical function and the sudden fixing up of a certain date, viz, 10th March for it, alarmed the people. The people thought that the Chinese would take the D.L. forcibly away to China.
Crowds gathered and what happened afterwards has already been conveyed through Mr Menon. The people openly voiced their sentiments in demanding overthrow of Chinese rule and set up committees to rule themselves.
The old local Government of Tibet tried their best to come to terms with the Chinese and pacify the people. It was a very critical time for the local Government and they were faced with a dilemma whether they were to go over to the Chinese or side with the People. They followed a policy of peace.
At that time three letters from Gen. Tan Kwan Sano were received and D.L. and the Kashago also wrote letters. In their letters to the D.L., the Chinese mentioned
(1) that the restoration of law and order in Lhasa was the responsibility of the local Tibetan Government;
(2) dispersal of crowds to be carried out, otherwise there would be serious consequences; and
(3) D.L. will either come over to the Chinese or show where he was actually staying in the Norbulingkal compound by sending a plan of the actual palace in which he lived. This letter asking for the plan of the palace was accompanied by an explanation to the Dalai Lama by Ngapho Shape.
P.M. [:] What is the reason for this request?
D.L. [:] The reason is not known but from the trend of the letter the Chinese probably had the intention of destroying everything else in Norbulingka except that palace. But on the dawn of 20th March they shelled the entire Norbulingka Palace with heavy artillery.
D.L. emphasised that these letters of the Chinese did not contain any suggestion for coming to terms with the Tibetans.
In response to P.M.’s direct query, D.L. confirmed that he received 3 letters from the Chinese General and that he had sent the replies. Referring to the first letter, which D.L. wrote to Gen. Tan, he said at that moment Norbulingka was surrounded by the people and it was impossible for him to come out of the palace.
P.M. [:] Has the D.L. seen his letters to the Chinese General?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. drew D.L.'s attention to his first letter. D.L. confirmed it. The second letter written by D.L. also was confirmed by D.L.
P.M. [:] D.L. puts the blame in part of his first letter to Gen. Tan entirely on the Tibetans?
D.L. [:] The reference could be to the Chinese as well.
P.M. [:] No. The reference is clearly to the Tibetans.
D.L. [:] It was under Chinese provocation that Tibetan elements referred to in that letter acted as they did.
P.M. [:] The second letter of Gen. Tan to the D.L. refers to military preparations of the Tibetan people of Lhasa and of Military provocation. D.L. confirmed this.
P.M. [:] Your second letter casts all the blame on the Tibetan people for the troubles and was this not supporting the Chinese thesis regarding these troubles?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] Was this what the D.L. felt at the time or was it what he just wanted to tell the Chinese?
D.L. [:] Such feelings as expressed in the letter can never be held by the D.L. against his people. But he has to give out such an explanation to the Chinese. He was trying to find a peaceful solution all the time. Till 1600 hours on 17th Match he had hopes of finding a peaceful solution. However, from 10th to 17th March he had another idea and because of that he wrote like this. From 10th March onwards he was thinking of going away from Lhasa, but he did not want to create any suspicion in the minds of the Chinese.
P.M. [:] Was D.L. preparing for it (leaving) if he was thinking of it for a week?
D.L. [:] No preparation. I only got hours' preparation, viz., from 1600 hours on 17th March.
P.M. referred to Gen Tan's last letter which said about the possible abduction of the D.L. by rebels.
P.M. [:] Did D.L. get this letter?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. took D.L.'s letter of the 16th replying to the General and read out the second paragraph. D.L. confirmed having written this.
P.M. queried regarding the expression of intention of joining the Chinese secretly in that letter and asked D.L. if this was correct.
D.L. [:] The intention was to delude the Chinese.
P.M. [:] Although the hope was not given up for a peaceful settlement?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] What kind of settlement was envisaged?
D.L. [:] It was hoped that the passions of the people in Norbulingka (consisting of Khampas, Tibetan people, etc.) would cool down.
P.M. [:] Who were demonstrating in Lhasa?
D.L. [:] The people of Lhasa.
P.M. [:] You mentioned Khampas?
D.L. [:] In Norbulingka there were about 2,000 Khampas volunteers who were guarding the palace.
P.M. [:] How did they come? Secretly?
D.L. [:] No. The Khampas had collected in Lhasa.
P.M. [:] Not invited?
D.L. [:] They were trying to send them away but they insisted on coming in.
P.M. [:] Why did the Chinese not take any action till the 20th while all this was taking place?
D.L. [:] They were not fully prepared.
P.M. [:] But they got reinforcements?
D.L. [:] Yes. They were stationed in 3 places in Lhasa.
P.M. [:] Were they reinforced in the next few days?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] What was the normal Chinese military strength in Lhasa before the disturbances?
D.L. [:] It was a military secret. About 20,000 or so. It may not have been to that extent even. The Tibetans were kept in the dark about the strength of the Chinese troops.
P.M. [:] How did they come? By lorry or by air?
D.L. [:] Soldiers in the outskirts of Lhasa were centralised. After the 20th they may have come upto Dan Shung aerodrome (near Lhasa) by air and then brought up by trucks.
P.M. [:] While all this was happening, was anything happening in other parts of Tibet?
D.L. [:] Not in other parts of Tibet except at Tsethang, where some Chinese troops were surrounded by Khampas.
P.M. [:] So a big change took place with the firing of shells or mortars which fell in the pond in Norbulingka.
D.L. [:] Because there were other reasons also. (1) The Chinese request for the exact place or building where D.L. stayed and (2) the Chinese had already started firing the Tibetans with rifles.
P.M. [:] The Chinese because of D.L.'s letter, are entitled to think that he has been abducted.
D.L. [:] I agree.
P.M. [:] That is, on the basis of this that Premier Chou-en Lai goes on asserting this?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] That is why despite the Tezpur statement they do not believe it.
P.M. continued: Where was Panchen Lamal all this time?
D.L. [:] At Shigatse.
D.L. continued: Now that the Prime Minister knows the full facts about these letters, D.L. would like to take guidance from him and in that connection, would like to say something.
At 2200 hrs. on 17th March they left Lhasa. On 26th March they set up a new Tibetan Government and after leaving some officials in charge of that Government they came to India for shelter and guidance.
D.L. continued: Indo-Tibetan bonds have been existing for thousands of years and from the geographical point of view India and Tibet are very close neighbours. The honour shown to D.L. and party during the Buddha Jayanti Celebrations in India had filled the entire Tibetan people with hope.
At this time, it was only through India that peace can be restored in Tibet. Tibetans needed the real help of the people of India.
D.L. continued: It was because of the backwardness of Tibet that they were in the present situation. The old generation of Tibetans had thought only of religion. The present situation is a result of their past mistakes.
At the time of Indian independence they had wanted to establish sound and close relationship with India, but this did not come off. Between 1947 and 1950, Tibetan officials had failed completely in this respect.
At the present time, the entire Tibetan people were conscious of the need for reform in their country's political sphere. They felt that they should adopt the best methods in the political field and at the same time not harm their religion. If the Chinese make any interference in such kind of reformation, it would be clearly anti-religious.
They think they have to lead their own life and the Chinese should not interfere.
D.L. said whether in Tibet or in the Kham areas of China they are all Buddhists. The whole foundation of Tibetan tradition is based on religion, and if they cannot carry on on that basis, they would become like a people without their souls. If any changes are to be brought about in Tibet they should be brought about by the Tibetan people themselves and not by foreigners and especially the Chinese, who were non-religious.
They must gain complete independence and attain the real peace which can only be had by the practice of religion. D.L. emphasised that the Tibetans were no longer so conservative and wanted reforms to be carried out but according to their own people's wishes. He had received many letters from his people asking for efforts to attain Tibet's independence in the long run. The Tibetan students in China have also been showing strong national feelings.
Interrupting D.L., P.M. said emphatically: Let us be relevant. I agreed with all this conception of a new world, etc. I myself would like to see a new India, but these are only wishes and one does not know whether I would actually live to see it. We have to see the situation as it is and understand realities.
We understand about religion. If religion is really strong and dynamic it should be able to face up to a situation like this and if it is not able to do so, then there is something radically wrong with it.
There are only two choices: either an armed struggle in which case the party with the bigger arms wins. The example of the students and their nationalist feeling is no doubt a good one and it goes to prove that you cannot convert a whole nation into anything unless they are themselves convinced that it would conform to their interests.
P.M. continued: If one has to fight for anything one should choose one's weapons carefully, weapons which are to one's own advantage and not to that of the enemy. Violence is alright if one can be equal or superior to the enemy in arms. One must also know how to use violence in that case.
I am not criticising but only analysing the factors of the situation in Tibet. Spiritual efforts and physical force are two different things. In an actual physical conflict the physical force that can be brought to play and its results will have to be taken into account. Something to this effect I had spoken to the D.L. at the time I met him during the Buddha Jayanti Celebrations.
Speaking practically and not philosophically, Tibet became an economically and socially backward country. Such a country is physically weak and a poor country which cannot easily resist the force of a powerful country.
To say “Now give us a chance to become a strong country” ignores the actual position. We cannot go on, on that basis. In all such cases, the effort of the people themselves is required to improve their position.
Take India's own case. We had a background of relative backwardness ourselves and how hard the Indian people had to struggle before they actually achieved independence.
P.M. then asked: Did D.L. at any time speak to Premier Chou-en Lai and Gen. Tan that autonomy given to Tibet was not working or it was not real autonomy.
D.L. [:] Yes, I spoke to Chang Kuo-hua. In 1959 about the reforms in Kham being carried out against the wishes of the people there, but not about autonomy.
P.M. [:] When did D.L. and Premier Chou-en Lai last meet?
D.L. [:] In Delhi.
P.M. [:] Why did he not say this not once but a hundred times to Premier Chou en Lai that there was not real autonomy in Tibet? Now to say that it was not working is not very effective.
P.M. went on: D.L. stated at Tezpur or somewhere that from May 58 onwards the Chinese suspected him—what actually happened then?
D.L. [:] The main point is that when they (Tibetans) tried to resist some of the harmful policies the Chinese opposed them and got angry with them. Since then, they are suspicious and now they are called rebels.
D.L. confessed that it was their mistake not to have mentioned to Premier Chou en Lai about autonomy. The Chinese, although outwardly make a show of welcoming criticism, were extremely angry when any criticism is leveled against them. There was, therefore, no change to tell them about this.
P.M. [:] The choice is between recourse to arms or standing up to the Chinese in frank talks in a direct manner. As regards help from India, undoubtedly there is a good deal of sympathy for Tibet in this country, undoubtedly, we do not want the Tibetan religion to be suppressed or submerged by the Chinese or by Communism. But exactly what do they want us to do? We cannot go to war with China or Tibet and even that would not help Tibet? What else do they expect us to do?
D.L. [:] Tibetans expect the achieving of independence in the long run.
P.M. [:] Let us face facts. One cannot bring heaven to the people in India even if I wish it. The whole world cannot bring freedom to Tibet unless the whole fabric of the Chinese State is destroyed. U.S.A., U.K., and others or anybody else cannot do this at present.
D.L. should realise that in the present context Tibet's independence would mean the complete break-up of the Chinese State and it is not possible to envisage it as likely to happen.
To defeat China is not easy. Only a world war, an atomic war can perhaps be the precursor of such possibility. Can one start a world war? Can India start a world war? Let us talk of the present and not of the future and be more realistic.
D.L. [:] Help is required for the present juncture. Since 20th March, the Chinese have been killing indiscriminately and burning large numbers of people. Can't this be stopped?
P.M. [:] How can I stop it? How can I stop anything from happening inside Tibet?
D.L.[:] There are killings by machine-gunning from the air. If there can be only a solution to this?
P.M. [:] There is a definite contradiction between this talk of a fight and this fear of killing. Ultimately if Tibet's independence is to be achieved, it will be due to its own people's courage and ability to stand up to suffering, whatever it may be, and not due to any help anybody else in the whole wide world can give.
D.L. [:] We do not have a speck of a desire to fight the Chinese violently for our independence. It was the Chinese who said that the Tibetans started the fight but this is completely untrue.
P.M. [:] It does not matter who started the fight and there is no good complaining. Only old women complain! Physically it is not possible to fight on behalf of Tibet. Even such a suggestion will harm them and their cause. Sympathy at present for Tibet cannot be converted into help by any country.
D.L. should be under no illusion and, therefore, should fashion his policy with reference to actuality. Gen. Chiang Kai Sheikh's name is mud and an association with him would only tend to make the cause much more hopeless and likely to end in complete failure. U.S.A., U.K. can do nothing.
Therefore, at the present moment if the D.L. reads newspapers he will find the anger of the Chinese against India. See for example the Panchen Lama's statement. We have gone to the limit of our efforts. It is true not much has been done. Today we cannot even privately advise Chinese, because of this suspicion. The so-called help being given to you would close all the doors to such help.
D.L. would remember that P.M. had spoken about Hungary. The troubles there aroused tremendous feelings and sympathy for hundreds of Hungarians were shot down but they could still not do anything except to help the refugees. Therefore, we have to consider all these things.
P.M. continued: As a practical question, what can we do about it? We are anxious to help but our capacity to help is very limited and the moment we try to extend it, it would stop even that capacity. War was not possible. Cursing the Chinese was no alternative. It would only stop every possibility of a peaceful settlement.
P.M. himself intended to kept very quiet except when necessary in speaking in Parliament. His own advice would be to let the present excitement go down so that talks would be possible. The Chinese say India wants to grab Tibet and with this suspicion they suspect everything we say.
P.M. was trying in these few moments to explain some basic facts to the D.L. He asked for the D.L.'s reactions to what the P.M. had already said.
D.L. [:] The Prime Minister has been kind enough to express the views of India. D.L. agreed India should be in the middle and try to help Tibet through China. At the present juncture the attempt should be to develop good relations between India and China so as to find a solution to Tibet. They cannot expect any military help from India knowing fully well the experience of Korea in the event of a conflict developing on the basis of a cold war.
P.M. [:] At the moment, our relations with China are bad. We have to recover the lost ground. By threats to China or condemnation of China we do not recover such ground. On the other hand, we do not show any fear of China or surrender to China's strength. We have yet to maintain good relations with China – a middle but difficult course. Does D.L. agree with this?
D.L. [:] Yes.
P.M. [:] The mere fact of D.L. living in India has some consequence to India, to Tibet, to China and to the rest of the world. In China it is immediately one of irritation and suspicion. D.L. being in India, keeps alive the question of Tibet in the minds of the world.
Tibet, as it were, cannot close up without news. It becomes a difficult thing to manage. The tendency of the Chinese authorities would be to crush Tibet as soon as possible.
Nobody can help. I cannot understand how the Khampas can resist overwhelming Chinese force? One should, therefore, not close the doors of settlement; otherwise, it becomes a fight to the death.
P.M. continued: I am glad that the D.L. issued a statement before coming here and not after reaching Mussoorie. This statement is also suspected by the Chinese. In the main it covers all points. P.M. then advised no more long statements. The only kind of statements, if at all necessary, could relate about peace and ending of fighting in Tibet. An indication that despite all her sufferings Tibet had no quarrel with the Chinese may be helpful.
P.M. deprecated the taking up of an attitude like “we must have independence or nothing else.” This would not help, nor would the cursing of China help. Stress on peace and stopping of fighting and killing will help in keeping the subject in the right place and level.
P.M. then enquired whether D.L. thought this approach was all right.
D.L. [:] Judging the situation in Tibet, this is correct.
P.M. [:] Both the Tibetan situation and the DL's presence in India also warrant the adoption of such an attitude. For a month or six weeks there need not be any statements.
P.M. then enquired about the report about the setting up of a new Government and the details regarding it were given by the D.L.
P.M. [:] Certain consequences follow from this. We as a country cannot recognise this Government under international law. The moment we do this, we will have to withdraw our C.G. in Lhasa and lose all touch with Tibet.
D.L. enquired whether our C.G. was not responsible to the old Tibetan Government and since it has dissolved, did not the position change?
P.M. [:] It is an act of war against China, a step like that of withdrawing our C.G. and recognising the new Government.
P.M. then referred to D.L. and his party's contacts with this new rebel centre and said that while some contacts for news, etc., may be good, if it is publicly known that they are directing the rebellion from here, then international questions will come up.
D.L. frankly admitted that they had no time to think about the consequences of setting up of a new Government and its position under international law. The difficulties of communication were there and they had certainly no intention of embarrassing India, since he did not want India's relations with any other country to be at all adversely affected.
P.M. [:] It also comes in the way of a settlement. If D.L. has agents, etc., it should not be openly known and kept secret.
P.M. mentioned that he had been talking for three and a half hours and could perhaps talk more. But this was not possible; particularly speaking, we should watch events and reactions for the next 2 to 3 weeks.
D.L. can send messages orally or in writing by bag to Delhi. In the near future, P.M. cannot see him. After a while, when D.L. wants to come to Delhi he can come. If any necessity arises, Foreign Secretary can come and see him. P.M. expressed a hope of meeting D.L. later, of course, but not in the near future.
D.L. thanked the P.M. for his kind suggestions. He will convey it to the Kashag and will give full consideration to them.
P.M. [:] Menon will be here and can send messages from you.
P.M. then raised the question of Tibetan refugees. A large number of Tibetans were coming through our frontiers. If the number goes on increasing it will become a big problem. While not wanting to deny refuge we do not also want to received too vast a number either.
D.L. [:] Indeed, it will be a great problem for India. In the circumstances, Tibetans cannot go anywhere except to India. They rush to save themselves from the Chinese killings and he would appeal to the Government to be kind. As regards economic conditions, D.L. wished they should look after themselves so that they are not parasites on the Government of India.
P.M. [:] How many does he expect to come in as refugees?
D.L. [:] It may not be more than 2,000.
P.M. [:] We have already got two thousand. It is not so much the economic aspect. It causes unhappiness to those who cannot fit themselves into the new environment and Tibetans cannot live in plains. He will keep in touch with D.L. about this.
P.M. then pointedly told D.L. that he was no prisoner here and can go for walks, etc., in Mussoorie. As far as crowded parts were concerned, it is advisable to go by car. The entourage can also go out; but preferably in small groups and there was the language difficulty also. P.M. strongly advised D.L. not to have too many dealings with the press.
D.L. entirely agreed about the press.
P.M. [:] How did D.L. and party come out of Lhasa-in small groups?
D.L. [:] Groups of five. Sometimes one by one and then joined as groups.
P.M. enquired about the journey, whether it was extremely difficult.
D.L.[:] It was fairly difficult.
P.M. enquired about how the mother and members of the family took to the journey and whether it was too much of a strain for them.
D.L. [:] Not so difficult.
D.L. then thanked the Prime Minister and expressed his gratefulness for sparing so much time. He enquired whether as suggested by P.M., he could carry on religious activities in India and outside India?
P.M. [:] Certainly. How he could do this, D.L. will have to consider carefully.
D.L. then expressed a desire to meet the political officer in Sikkim.
P.M. [:] Some time later. Partly because our Communists have been specially accusing Political Officer, Sikkim, of intriguing against the Chinese.
F.S. mentioned that the Political Officer, Sikkim, could be called up to Delhi for consultations and then come to Mussoorie.
P.M. [:] He will come a little later. D.L. will be busy with many things. It may be worthwhile improving his Hindi and English.
D.L. [:] I know a few sentences in Hindi. Meanwhile I am thinking of learning English.
P.M. [:] If D.L. wants any help, we will provide them.
D.L. mentioned that learning English might help him to understand international law and practice better.
Finally D.L. expressed the desire that continued guidance may be given to him in future as well by the Government of India.
The meeting ended with D.L. expressing once again his gratefulness to the P.M. for coming and spending such a long time with him.
Extract from Volume 48 of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru published in 2013