NEW DELHI -- Members of Tibet's government-in-exile urged those living and working around the Dalai Lama to remain on alert Sunday after the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader voiced concern that Chinese agents might be plotting to kill him.
Ngodup Dongchung, security minister for the Tibetan exiles based in the Indian hill station of Dharamsala, said a cabinet meeting of officials over the weekend reviewed security arrangements and vowed to redouble vigilance.
“We still like to remain very cautious,” he said. “Of course we’re working closely with the Indian government on this.”
The Dalai Lama in an interview with England’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper earlier this month said his security detail had received reports some time back from a Tibetan employed by Chinese security agencies that Tibetan women were being trained to assassinate him by applying poison to their hair and to traditional greeting scarves. Tibetans on meeting the Dalai Lama frequently give him scarves and bow their heads.
Rinzin Choedon, coordinator with the Students for a Free Tibet activist group, said Sunday she has no doubt China is capable of such an attack, but said security has been tightened after the report and is now sufficient. “Now no one is allowed to offer him anything,” she said. “This scarf incident is a cheap act by low-thinking China. They are shameless.”
The exiled government said in a statement Sunday that although the Dalai Lama, 76, may not take seriously the threat -- which it added has not been verified –- his security detail does.
Chinese authorities have denied the claims, arguing that they could have carried out an attack earlier if they wanted to and adding that this disclosure by the Dalai Lama was nothing more than an “insidious trick.”
The exile government said in the statement that security officials also received reports from Tibet in 2010 that Chinese intelligence agencies were making plans to attack the Dalai Lama using “ultra-modern and highly sophisticated drugs and poisonous chemicals.”
Another report received in October said the Chinese agencies were trying to collect physical samples of his blood, urine and hair –- it was not immediately clear for what purpose –- reportedly by convincing Tibetans inside China to visit India and arrange a meeting with the Dalai Lama to collect the biological materials.
Srikanth Kondapalli, professor in Chinese studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said these reports fit in with a pattern of cyber attacks on Tibetan websites linked to Beijing and reports of Chinese spies canvassing Dharamsala.
“With improvements in technology, one can never say from where the threat is coming,” he said. “He is a simple man and doesn’t look like he wears a bulletproof vest or something to protect himself.”
-- Mark Magnier. Tanvi Shama contributed.
Photo: The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, greets people in Hüttenberg, Austria, during a visit on Thursday. Credit: Barbara Gindl / European Pressphoto Agency.