Peter Jackson: The day I saw the Dalai Lama flee into exile

Share
Related Topics

In March 1959, the world had heard only a few rumours of trouble in Tibet, after the Chinese closed the borders with India and Bhutan but the Indian government was being informed by its diplomats in Lhasa.

On 18 March, an Indian journalist, Shri Krishna, who had contacts with senior members of the Indian government, called us urgently to his house. He told us there had been riots in Lhasa and the Dalai Lama was heading for the Indian frontier. We broke the news in a Reuters report. The Dalai Lama and his party reached the frontier after nearly two weeks of trekking.

As it happened, my wife Adrienne and I had been to Gangtok, capital of Sikkim, on the border with Tibet, the previous year. We had lunch with the Chogyal [king] and his sister, Princess Kukula, who was married to the high-level Phuenkhang family of Tibet. We knew the princess was in Delhi.

Adrienne called her in her hotel room and asked if the report of the Dalai Lama's arrival in India was true. She replied: "We know he is safe, but we don't know where he is. I am very tired. I am going to bed." That clinched it. We knew that after weeks of anxiety she would never have relaxed unless she knew that the Dalai Lama was safely in India.

At about 11 pm, we flashed a report to Reuters that the Dalai Lama had crossed into India and would receive political asylum. No other agencies had the news, nor had the Indian press. In parliament the next day, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru announced that the Dalai Lama would be granted political asylum.

The Dalai Lama had been greeted by Indian troops, who led him to the Tawang Monastery where he rested until he undertook the week-long trek from 3,300m (10,800ft) down to the town of Tezpur on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River, in Assam.

As president of the Foreign Correspondents' Association, I hired an Indian Airways plane and flew with fellow correspondents to Tezpur. The Dalai Lama came down the trail on foot and burst into a big smile and raised his hands in the air on seeing our little group.

The author is a former Reuters correspondent

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Project Manager - Technical

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a Jun...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller - Part-time / Maternity Cover

£10400 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Credit Controller is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager / CAD Engineer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is the UK subsidia...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne  

I'm against Right-to-Buy because no government should force a charity to sell its assets

Bob Kerslake
 

Charles Kennedy: Pragmatic, shrewd, and tactically brilliant

Sean O'Grady
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral