Tibetans Carrying Indian Voter ID Asked to Surrender Foreigner Status
Tibetan refugees in Himachal Pradesh who have Indian voter IDs have been asked to surrender their registration certificates.
Tibetan refugees who have Indian voter IDs have been asked by the police to surrender their registration certificates within one month. The registration certificate is an identity document given to Tibetans living in India that gives them the status of foreigners.
However, a voter ID establishes Indian citizenship and according to a circular dated Feb. 3 issued by the police, it is causing security conflict, the Times of India reported. The circular has been issued as it is mandatory for a Tibetan who has availed Indian citizenship and voting rights to submit the registration certificate. “A circular in this regard has been issued across Tibetan settlements in Kangra district,” the publication quoted Superintendent of Police Santosh Patial as saying.
The circulars have been sent to Tibetan settlements in McLeodganj, Bir Tibetan Society, Nangchen division, Dege division and Tashi Jong Tibetan camp, in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. The registration certificates have to be submitted to the Foreigner Registration Office (FRO).
The issue of Tibetan refugees holding electoral card without surrendering their status as a foreigner has been raised at different levels at various times.
There are around 1,400 Tibetan voters registered in Kangra district, the report said, adding that 296 of them exercised their franchise in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections without surrendering their registration certificate.
The matter has to be dealt with by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Dawa Rinchen, a Tibetan settlement officer at McLeodganj, told the publication. “We have received the letter and it has been forwarded to the home and security department of the CTA. It is not in our purview,” he said.
The rules allow all Tibetans born in India between 1950 and 1987 to get voting rights. In September 2016, the Delhi High Court ruled that Tibetans born in India between this time period are eligible to apply for Indian passports.
Another milestone was reached for the Tibetan population in India in July last year, when Calgary-based Canadian citizen Namgyal Samdup became the first Tibetan born in India to get the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) certificate.
Tibetans have been living in India since 1959, when the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa after a failed uprising against Chinese occupation, and established his government in exile at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. Of the about 1,50,000 Tibetans living around the world, around 1,20,000 are estimated to be Indian residents. Tibetans in India are not refugees or citizens; they are foreigners living in special settlements on humanitarian grounds.