• China still maintains its position that the Dalai Lama is part of a larger separatist group that aims to foster division in China.

China still maintains its position that the Dalai Lama is part of a larger separatist group that aims to foster division in China. (Photo : Getty Images)

India's two largest political parties are scolding China for opposing the visit of the Dalai Lama to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in January 2017, saying this holy man considered the face of opposition to Chinese military aggression can travel anywhere he wants inside India.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the largest political party, and the Indian National Congress that controls the upper house of the Parliament of India, both issued almost similar statements defending the Dalai Lama's visit and heaping scorn on China for threatening to punish India for this visit.

The Dalai Lama will visit Arunachal Pradesh in January 2017 at the invitation of the Chief Minister Pema Khandu. China also protested the visit to Arunachal Pradesh last October of Richard Verma, U.S. Ambassador to India.

China is violently objecting to any foreign dignitaries visiting Arunachal Pradesh because it considers this Indian state an integral part of the People's Republic of China. In 2006, China's ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi, claimed that all of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory amidst a military buildup.

BJP said the Dalai Lama is free to travel to any part of the country and added that threats by China directed against India won't help bilateral relations.

"As far as whoever wants to visit any part of India, they can do so and these kinds of comments are uncalled for and they do not help in bilateral relations in any way," said BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli.

China considers Arunachal Pradesh part of southern Tibet and routinely opposes visits by important persons to Arunachal Pradesh that will call attention to China's illegal claim to own the entire state.

Congress "rubbished and rejected" China's threat that India's allowing this visit will damage its growing relationships with China. It said that the Tibetan spiritual leader is free to travel independently to any part of India and Beijing has no right to question it.

"China can have its own opinion. We all believe that the Dalai Lama is a guest in India and that the Dalai Lama can travel freely, independently to any portion that is within the territorial jurisdiction of India. Arunachal is an integral part of India," said Congress leader Randeep Surjewala.

Surjewala urged Modi to send a strongly worded message to China on the issue.

"No other country, no other individual, definitely not China, has the right to question the complete integrity and union of the state of Arunachal Pradesh with the union of India," he said.

"We have indelible rights over the land as also over the territory of Arunachal Pradesh as it a part and parcel of India. The Government of India should send a strong message to China on this issue."

China said the Dalai Lama, whose country, Tibet, was conquered by China in 1951 after being invaded, will severely damage China-India relations with his visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

"India is very clear about the severity of the Dalai Lama issue and the sensitivity of the China-India border issue," said Lu Kang, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Under this circumstance, the Indian side invited the 14th Dalai Lama to visit the disputed territorial area of China and India, which could only severely damage the peace and stability in the border area of China and India and China-India relationship."

He also said China resolutely opposes Dalai's visit to "disputed territorial area of Arunachal Pradesh," which infers China doesn't consider the state to be part of India.