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Friday , 24 May 2019
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Sixty years after fleeing Tibet, refugees in India get passports, not property

Event organiser Lobsang Wangyal has to travel overseas often, but as a Tibetan refugee born in India, he do not have a passport.

So Wangyal parents fled Tibet as teenagers, went to court to demand his rights to an Indian passport.

In response , the Delhi high court said that all Tibetans born in India between January 1950 to July 1987 are Indian citizens by birth and can be issued passports.

Wangyal got his Indian passport shortly thereafter using it to go to Thailand.

“I feel like a real person now , having obtained a passport ” said Wangyal.

“Tibetans are seen as refugees and as stateless in India. Being seen that way after having been born and lived our whole lives in India is unfair and impractical,” he said.

More than 1,00,000 Tibetans lives lives across India. They generally arrive via Nepal.

The Indian government has funded schools to provide free education for Tibetans and reserved seats in colleges. 

Some Tibetans get voter ID card as well. But do not have citizenship rights and freedom of movement within and outside India.

They cannot own land or property. They don’t get driving licence or bank loans.

“Tibetans refugees get enough rights and benefits and not everyone wants citizenship ” said Sonam Norbu Dagpo , a spokesman for the central Tibetan administration.

” I don’t think it’s important to have citizenship rights or to have Indian passport ” says Dorjee Tsesing , works in a store in Dharamsala.

But for Wangyal, who fought for a passport, more rights are necessary.

“I would like the right to own a property. A little house and small business would be good to live decent life” said Wangyal.

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