Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama arrived in Srinagar, capital of northern India’s Jammu and Kashmir, today for a week-long visit. Chief minister Omar Abdullah received him at the airport to welcome the recently turned 77-year old Buddhist leader.
The revered spiritual leader is scheduled to meet with the Tibetan refugees living in Kashmir on Sunday. This is the first visit of the Dalai Lama to Srinagar in 25 years. He first met with the Srinagar Tibetan Muslim community in 1975 and later again in 1988.
Mohamed Ali, a Tibetan Kashmiri Muslim who has settled in Srinagar from Lhasa since1961, said he deeply loves and respects the Dalai Lama as his leader. “Even though His Holiness is not our religious leader, we have love and respect for him as my leader and leader of Tibetan generations before me.” Ali said the Tibetan Muslims in the area all deeply revere the Dalai Lama and that the Tibetan leader is also especially fond of them.
There are about 2000 Tibetans living in Srinagar, mostly Tibetans who were repatriated from Tibet in the 1960s. Many Tibetans settled in the area are from Shigatse and Lhasa. These refugees have distinct identity as a Kashmiri and Tibetan.