Dalai Lama visits Kashmir, first time in 24 years


Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama gestures as he speaks during a students gathering at the Mumbai University in Mumbai on February 18, 2011.


Punit Paranjpe

The Dalai Lama is on a week-long trip to Kashmir and Jammu, his first visit to the disputed region in 24 years.

The Christian Science Monitor reported the Buddhist spiritual leader urged people to follow the path of nonviolence, as he has in Tibet.

“Violence will lead nowhere,” the Dalai Lama told students in Srinagar’s Tibetan colony. “Differences and disagreements should be resolved through dialogue. Violence can solve nothing; instead, it can create more problems."

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However, many in Kashmir did not agree with the Dalai Lama’s appeal for peace in a region often wrought with violence, according to the Monitor.

“Considering the politics between India, Tibet, and China – and India’s support to Dalai Lama – the statement is understandable and he didn’t go beyond the official line of Indian government,” says Gul Mohammad Wani, a professor of political science at the University of Kashmir. “But he should have at least talked of the same autonomy for Kashmir that he does for Tibet.”

Kashmir is one of the oldest remaining conflicts in the world. Clashes in the region between India and Pakistan in the name of independence have lead to a number of deaths. In 2010, security forces killed more than 100 unarmed youths, most during protests, according to news reports. However, an exact accounting of causalities is unknown due to the difficult nature of reporting the conflict.

The spiritual leader visited a number of religious sights, including Dargah Hazaratbal, Gupt Ganga Shiva Temple and Gurdawara Chatti Padshahi, GreaterKashmir.com reported. 

"I will always remember the warm welcome and excellent hospitality of the people of Kashmir which they have extended to me during the visit," he said, IBNLive reported.