Returning pilgrims whisked away on a train bound for China

Dram (Ch:Zhangmu) bridge at the Nepal-Tibet border

DHARAMSHALA, January 31: Hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims returning to Tibet from Nepal have been arrested by Chinese security personnel and forcibly taken to an undisclosed location.

Citing sources from inside Tibet, the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said that the detained pilgrims were whisked away in a train bound for China.

“At around 10 am (Tibet time) January 31, Chinese security forces surrounded those Tibetans at the railway station in Tibet’s capital Lhasa and then put them in a train bound for China,” CTA said.

There were earlier reports that many Tibetans returning from pilgrimage in Nepal and India had gone missing and were yet to arrive at their homes.

CTA further said that the arrested Tibetans will face interrogation at an unknown location.

China has specially set up 12 security checkpoints from the town of Dram (Ch:Zhangmu) at the Nepal-Tibet border all the way to Tibet’s capital Lhasa. The checkpoints manned by Public Security Bureau officials were placed to scrutinise and investigate Tibetan pilgrims returning back from Indian and Nepal.

A Tibetan from Tibet had earlier told Phayul that the pilgrims were being “stopped, harassed and threatened at gun point.” 

In an earlier report the CTA had said that Chinese security officials were “forcefully confiscating medicines and religious artefacts being carried by the pilgrims” including even rosaries which are carried by almost every Tibetan.

Adding to the fears of arrest and interrogations at the special security checkpoints, China has already announced plans of once again shutting down Tibet from the outside world.

The duration of the ban, from mid-February to late March, encompasses two important events; the Tibetan New Year from February 22-24 and the Tibetan national uprising day commemorated on March 10.

As of now, there are no further details are available on the current whereabouts and well being of the arrested Tibetans.

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