DHARAMSALA: The Central Tibetan Administration has expressed deep condolences on the sad demise of two-time former Kalon Tripa Sonam Topgyal. He breathed his last due to prolonged illness at the age of 71 on 30 December.
“The Tibetan people have lost an exemplary civil servant, who has dedicated six decades of his life with utmost sincerity for the sustenance of the Tibetan freedom movement. The younger generation has the responsibility to carry on the legacy of our elder generation,” Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay said in his condolence message.
As a mark of respect, the administration held a prayer service this afternoon, following which all the offices remained closed.
Mr Sonam Topgyal was born in Kham Dagyab in 1941. He came into exile in 1959 to India through Missamari.
In 1960, he studied at the Central University for Tibetan Studies, Sarnath. Under the guidance of the Central Tibetan Administration, he joined the Benares Hindu University as a researcher.
He joined the Central Tibetan Administration in 1963. In 1971, he was appointed as a deputy secretary of the department of information. He was transferred to the cabinet secretariat( Kadrung) in 1976. In 1980, he was promoted to the post of secretary of the department of information. He was later selected as a member of the public service commission in 1983.
In July 1993, he accompanied Kalon Gyalo Thondup to deliver His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s letter and memorandum addressed to China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and President Jiang Zemin. The Tibetan delegation met Wang Caogo, Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department.
In 1993, he was nominated to the 10th Kashag, and served as the kalon for the department of home and department of health till 1996. He also took responsibility as the Kalon Tripa in 1995.
He was nominated again to the 11th Kashag in 1997 and served as the Kalon Tripa as well as the kalon for the department of home, security, and religion and culture till 2001. Since 2002, he had worked at the Tibetan Cultural Preservation Centre in Norbu Lingka Institute.
He became one of the founding members of the Tibetan Youth Congress in 1970. Other members are Kasur Lodi Gyari Rinpoche, Kasur Tenzin Tethong and Tenzin Gyeche.
The funeral will be held in Dharamsala on the morning of 1 January.
Kalon Trisur Sonam Topgyal la is survived by his wife and three daughters.