border review | 14 January 2012

207 Tibetan pilgrims arrested, Wen Jiabao's brief visit

Rebublica reports that 207 Tibetan pilgrims were arrested by Nepali police for illegally entering the country from India (according to Phayul, Kathmandu’s Chief of Police had originally put the number at 114). The pilgrims had attended the Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya and were on their way back home to Tibet via Nepal. At least half of them had passports and Nepali visas, which they had left behind in Kathmandu while attending the ceremony.

Just when the news got out, Nepali officials learned that Wen Jiabao decided to make a 5-hour stop-over in Kathmandu later today and meet with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai. Wen had cancelled his planned visit in December.

Two questions arise: First, is this 5-hour stop-over the substitute for the cancelled trip? The original plan had Wen Jiabao lead a Chinese delegation of 180 people and the hopes of substantial aid and investment promises had been very high in Nepal. And second, what is the Nepali police planning to do with the 207 Tibetans? Hand them over to the Chinese authorities for a violation of Indian and Nepali immigration laws? As the majority of them has passports and given how difficult it is for Tibetans to get them, I would assume that many of them were retired government officials or well-connected business people.