Tibetans on Alert in South India

A stabbing incident raises fears and concerns among Tibetans.
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Muslim schoolchildren make a human chain in the shape of a map of India as they pray for world peace in Jodhpur in India's Rajasthan state, Aug. 9, 2012.
Muslim schoolchildren make a human chain in the shape of a map of India as they pray for world peace in Jodhpur in India's Rajasthan state, Aug. 9, 2012.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. EST on 2012-08-24

Tibetans living in a South Indian city have been put on alert following a knife attack on a Tibetan student and reports that other Tibetans may soon be targeted for assault, sources in the region say.

The attack on Wednesday in Mysore city came following clashes between Muslims and other ethnic groups, some resembling Tibetans, both in northeastern India and in the western Burmese state of Rakhine.

On Aug. 14, two Indians riding a motorcycle stabbed Tenzin Dargye, a student, in the back, Lobsang Jamyang, president of the South Indian Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, told RFA.

“Luckily, this did not injure any vital organ. He is in critical condition but will survive,” Jamyang said.

“There are about 300 Tibetan students studying in Mysore City, and most of them have now left for the safety of their homes in the Tibetan settlements of South India,” Jamyang said.

“Others who live in distant places are staying away,” he added.

Weeks of fighting between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas in Burma and in India’s northeastern state of Assam have fueled ethnic tensions in South India.

Additionally, police have cited rumors that people resembling northeastern Indians, East Asians, or Tibetans will  be attacked at the end of the Muslim fasting period around Aug. 20.

Police help sought

Jampa Phuntsog, head of the Tibetan community in Mysore, told RFA that community leaders have now approached the Indian police for help.

“We have approached the local superintendent and deputy superintendent of police for the Mysore area, alerted them to the security concerns of Tibetans, and asked them for protection,” Phuntsog said.

“Nevertheless Tibetans, particularly those travelling in Mysore and neighboring areas, should be careful of their safety,” Phuntsog said, adding that area Tibetans have been urged to travel in groups of two or more, to avoid travel after 6:00 p.m., and to avoid confrontation if approached.

Tibetan representatives have also spoken to Muslim community leaders in nearby Bylakuppe, Kushalnagar, and Periyapatna in an effort to prevent misunderstandings, Phuntsog said.

“We have spoken to law enforcement  and community leaders, and there is no reason to be over-worried,” he said.


Tensions were earlier inflamed by the circulation on Facebook of a photograph of red-robed monks standing amid rows of corpses, purportedly showing the bodies of Muslims “killed by Buddhists.”

In reality, the photo showed Tibetan monks conducting prayers for the victims of a devastating earthquake in a Tibetan area of China’s Qinghai province in 2010, Tibet’s India-based exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration, said on Wednesday.

“There should not be any misinterpretation and misunderstanding about those photos,” the CTA said in its statement.

“We want to thank all our Muslim friends and Indian authorities for helping us in clearing the misunderstanding and calming the situation,” the CTA said.

Reported by Pema Ngodup for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

CORRECTION: In the third paragraph from the bottom, an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Chinese province in which the 2010 earthquake occurred. Qinghai is the correct location. Also, the Tibetan stabbing victim, Tenzin Dargye, was a student, not a monk.





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