DHARAMSHALA: Responding to questions raised during the fourth session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament, on the issue of Tibetans opting for Indian citizenship CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay clarified that the Kashag follows the directive issued by the Indian government.
“The decision to apply for Indian or any other country’s citizenship is a personal choice. If you are eligible, you can apply. The Tibetan administration has no right nor does it intend to interfere in a person’s fundamental rights,” President Dr Sangay said.
However, he clarified, that the Indian government has set a few conditions for Tibetans aspiring to apply for Indian citizenship.
“As per directive of the Indian government, those seeking an Indian passport will need to cancel their registration certificate (RC) and identity certificate (IC). Moreover, the applicant should not be staying in designated Tibetan refugee settlements and forfeit all privileges and benefits from the Central Tibetan Administration,” he explained.
“These conditions are set by the Indian government. As we are based in India, it is our duty to follow any directive issued by the Indian government. India has done more than any other country for the Tibetan people and we should remain eternally grateful to this great nation,” he said.
Dr Sangay further clarified the distinction between the terms ‘Tibetan origin’ and ‘Tibetan refugee’, explaining how it should be interpreted.
“Tibetans holding passports of other countries (including India) are considered people of Tibetan origin. We don’t deny their passion for the Tibet cause. For that reason, we issue the Tibetan green book to them, giving them the right to cast votes during Tibetan elections and participate in the Tibetan freedom struggle,” he said.
“However, these Tibetans cannot be called Tibetan refugees and cannot avail the benefits provided by the Central Tibetan Administration such as scholarship, jobs, etc.” he explained.
The Kashag has made it explicitly clear, since 2012, that the CTA neither deters any Tibetan from applying for Indian citizenship nor does it encourage Tibetans to apply for Indian citizenship.
India is home to an estimated one Lakh Tibetans, most of who live in 35 settlements across the country in 12 Indian states.