The innumerable multicoloured flags fluttering on terraces at Majnu Ka Tilla in New Delhi near Kashmiri Gate signify the cultural and physical presence of a mini-Tibet. This colony has been home to Tibetan refugees who fled their homeland back in the 1960s. What started as a refugee camp is now dominated by the rich culture of Tibetan food.
Ten Zeing, an owner of a tea shop, shares how his family migrated from Tibet to protect their culture which was being oppressed by the Chinese military in 1960’s. Zeing says that though he enjoys living freely in India but at least once in his life he wants to visit his land, the beautiful place which he has always heard but never seen. Even the smile in the midst of a difficult conversation can’t erase his pain.
Most of the people here possess PAN cards, Aadhar cards but not Indian citizenship, not that they want to get it. They feel that if they get Indian citizenship then even the last thing connecting them with their land will break. So they possess dual ID cards which even gives them quota in government jobs and everything of India but citizenship.
In this mini Tibet, they have formed an office at the centre of the colony on the second floor in front of a Buddhist temple. New members in the colony or any issue is first taken to the office and then through it to Indian authorities.
“Our culture is our life, the only thing we want to have with us and for this, we send our children to home schools where our language, our culture is taught. We don’t like to use foreign language the way Indians have adopted English,” an old woman probably in her 70s sitting at the tea shop said. They usually send their children to TCV (Tibetan Children’s Village) schools so that they can remain connected with their culture.
This mini Tibet on the outskirts of the capital has kept within it many such stories of those migrated to India years ago but never got to go back.