Ladakh shuts down in solidarity with Dalai Lama

Holding placards, hundreds of people come out on streets in Leh town in support of Dalai Lama

NEW DELHI | Updated: 19 April, 2023 2:14 am IST
Holding placards, hundreds of people came out on the streets in Leh town in support of the Dalai Lama

The Union Territory of Ladakh observed a complete shutdown in Leh and a few parts of the Kargil district on Monday in support of Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

All business establishments, including shops, were closed, and traffic movement remained off the roads.

The police and administration had made elaborate security arrangements, but no reports of any untoward incident were received as the protests remained entirely peaceful.

The shutdown call was given by the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), the Ladakh Gonpa Association (LGA) and many Muslim organisations, including Anjuman Imamia, Leh.

Holding placards, hundreds of people came out on the streets in Leh town in support of the Dalai Lama. They said malicious propaganda had been unleashed against the spiritual leader after a video went viral, showing the spiritual leader having a conversation with a child, which a few people termed unsettling.

READ: Tradition or …? Dalai Lama forces kid to suck his tongue

The video, which has been widely circulated, shows the Buddhist spiritual leader extending his tongue towards the child and asking him if he can suck it.

The footage has been widely criticised on social media, with many users terming it “creepy” and “disgusting”.

Many viewers were also disturbed by the actions of the others in the video, who were seen clapping and smiling. Many also pointed out that the child in the video appeared to be extremely uncomfortable with the act.

WATCH: Suck My Tongue: Dalai Lama Lip-Kisses Kid, Sparking Pedophilia Accusations

The protesters also demanded that an investigation be carried out to know who was behind the “propaganda”. The protesters were holding placards that read, ‘Stop defaming Dalai Lama’, ‘Long live Dalai Lama’, and ‘Shame on media’.

Tsering Dorje, 26, a protester from Leh, said, “We want an apology from the media as well as those influencers who levelled allegations against the Dalai Lama without any reason.”

Local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders also joined the protest, along with other social and religious organisations. Party’s Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal had already criticised the “propaganda against the Dalai Lama”.

In a statement, Namgyal called upon his followers to remember the principles of peace and non-violence that are central to the teachings of Buddhism.

READ: ‘Dalai Lama’s apology phony; he asked kid to suck, not hug’

He further added that the Dalai Lama has been a strong advocate of human rights and has tirelessly worked to promote peace and non-violence. He also expressed his pride in standing in solidarity with the Dalai Lama and his gratitude for his support and inspiration.

Meanwhile, his followers held a peaceful march inside Leh town. All business establishments were closed. Several Buddhist monks were also seen at the rally.

READ: Beyond excuse: Dalai Lama, this was no slip of ‘tongue’

Thupstan Chhewang, president of the LBA, said the foreign media and a few persons with personal agendas used the video to target the Dalai Lama. “We want an investigation to be launched to know who has been behind this,” he said.

The Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust, Kargil, issued a statement that read, “Muslims of Kargil join with the Ladakh people to strongly condemn this highly objectionable video clip that went viral, after which the media defamed the Dalai Lama. He is not only a respected leader and personality of the world but also a revered figure in Tibet and the entire Himalayan region, including Leh, Kargil and Baltistan.”

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