EC order on Tibetan in exile's voting rights draws mixed reaction

Dharamsala, Mar. 25 (ANI): The Election Commission's order to confer voting rights to Tibetans- in- exile in India ahead of general elections sparked mixed reactions in the Tibetan diaspora.

While a few rejoiced over the landmark decision, others felt that the decision might bring a blow to the Tibetan liberation struggle and also to the refugees' rights they are entitled to.

Former Tibetan Prime Minister- in- exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, has said that the decision has left many skeptical about the consequences it might have on the liberation movement and the Tibetan citizenship that they would have to surrender in order to vote.

"Involved in the struggle as Tibetan citizens, when we become citizens of some other country then we can only become Tibetan supporters and join Tibetan support groups not as Tibetans would be able to do. As I mentioned before, if giving voting rights is meant for the Indian citizen then we shall have to give up the Tibetan citizenship because India does not have the provisions for holding dual citizenship," Rinpoche said.

Though many are excited about casting their vote for the first time as an Indian citizen, a Tibetan Indian voter, Lobsang Wangyal felt that voting rights might curb their refugee rights.

"There are a few Tibetans that I have been discussing with, they are like reluctant to register as an Indian voter thinking that it may have some other implications on their daily lives such as the refugee benefits they may have been getting from other agencies, and some people they also feel what will happen to the Tibetan movement," Wangyal said.

The election commission decided last month that Tibetans born in India between 1950 and 1987 would be entitled to cast their votes as an Indian citizen.

However, District Election Officer of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, C Palrasu, said that the state election commission of Himachal Pradesh which homes the Tibetan community in exile has kicked off the inquiry into the authenticity of their birth dates, subsequent to which they would be registered as Indian voters. (ANI)