Authorities in China’s western province of Sichuan have arrested a Tibetan man accused of bombing a Chinese police station three years ago and of putting up banners calling for Tibetan independence, sources said.
Dhokar, 26, was seized on March 22 when he tried to visit a relative after evading capture by hiding in the forests and mountains near his home in Bathang county in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a Tibetan living in India said, citing contacts in the region.
The mountainous area, called Gangri Lungpa, was the site of a 2008 protest in which banners written in both Tibetan and Chinese were posted calling for Tibetan independence, Bawa Kalsang Gyaltsen said.
“[Because] Dhokar was the only Tibetan in the Gangri Lungpa village who knew the Chinese language, the Bathang County Police Department suspected him of putting up the banners and issued a warrant for his arrest,” Gyaltsen said.
“Bathang county police also suspect him of involvement in a bomb attack on the Pogurshi town police office in 2008,” he added.
Local authorities had been regularly watching Dhokar’s home and the homes of his relatives, and had threatened them with punishment for helping him evade capture, Gyaltsen said.
“A few days ago, I learned that after evading arrest for a long time, he had come to visit a close relative in a nomadic area. But on his way, he was captured by Chinese forces at Maja Thang, which is very close to Lithang, and was then handed over to the Bathang county police.”
'Everyone is scared'
Kalsang Dolma, a Tibetan originally from Dhokar’s village but now living in India, confirmed Dhokar's arrest, saying, “Dhokar had been hiding in the mountains and forests for a long time. That’s why the Chinese were not able to find him until now.”
“The Chinese told his family members that if he was found, he would face the same charge as Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche," a Tibetan monk convicted of a bomb attack in 2002 but widely believed by Tibetans to be innocent of the charge.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was first sentenced to death, a sentence later commuted to a life term in prison, while a man charged with being his accomplice in the bombing was executed.
After hearing of Dhokar’s arrest through contacts in Bathang, “I tried to call several phone numbers to learn more, but the phone connections were not clear,” Kalsang Dolma said.
“I then called a monk from my area, and he gave me a detailed account of what had happened.”
“There is no further information, because no one dares to go see him,” Kalsang Dolma said. “Everyone is scared of being arrested for being Dhokar’s accomplice.”
Reported for RFA’s Tibetan service with translations by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.