Friday, May 11, 2007

Rs 5 lakh for antique Tibetan passport

T ibetan refugees in India have collected Rs 5 lakh to pay an antique dealer in Nepal, who had recently found Tibet's first passport lost 13 years ago."It was issued in 1947 by the independent Tibetan government in Lhasa to a top Tibetan diplomatic official, who was issued visas by several western countries, including Britain, the US, France and Switzerland," said said Tenzing Tsundue, general secretary of the Friends of Tibet (FOT), an NGO in Dharamsala.The passport bears stamps of these countries which issued visa to Tsepon Shakabpa, the then finance secretary (1930-50) to the Tibetan government."We have collected Rs 5 lakh from Tibetan refugees in India, and the money will be paid by draft to the Pemachuding monastery in Nepal, which had paid the money in advance to the antique dealer in Kathmandu," Tensing Tsundue, of FOT told Business Standard over telephone today."Finding this passport is significant, as it is an important historical record which shows that several countries of the world recognised Tibet as an independent country, and issued visas to the bearer of the passport Tsepon Shakabpa," said Lobsang Tsultrin, another senior official of the Tibetan government in exile."The passport issued to Shakabpa, the then secretary of finance(1930-50) by the Cabinet of Tibet, Lhasa on Oct 10, 1947 bears the official stamps of India, Britain, USA, Italy, Switzerland and France, who issued visas to him," claimed the official."The passport has been slightly damaged by silver fish, but bears the entire information including the stamps," he said.The document was lost from the home of Shakabpa after his death in the town of Kalimpong(northern Bengal) and made its way into Nepal.The document was recovered in Nepal from an antique dealer by the Friends of Tibet(India) who, for the past two years, have been collecting objects of historical importance belonging to independent Tibet, to showcase them in an exhibition called "Story of a nation: Independent, occupied and exiled Tibet."