Tibet is fighting a muted freedom struggle. It is spoken mostly in whispers in India but in Dharamshala and Mcleodganj, Tibetan refugee settlements in Himachal Pradesh, the muted struggle screams at you from all directions. Graffiti on the walls reading “Tibet will be free”, books and T-shirts in the shops carrying similar expressions of optimism.
“You can walk around here and you will find so many people who will tell you stories of how they gave up everything they had in Tibet to come live here”, said Tashi, who works part time at the museum.
Tashi herself came to India in 2004 for her education while her family stayed back. In 2014, she got a phone call that changed her life. “June 16 2014. I remember the date clearly. I got a phone call saying my family had been jailed in Tibet.”
“I come from Driru, a small place in Tibet. My parents were opposed to the Chinese officials in Tibet. They always told me that if China continued mining Tibet’s resources, it would lead to natural disasters. Last year, my father put up the Tibetan national flag and also defied the Chinese governors in our region. So he was put in jail along with my mother and sister for three years. ”
Today, Tashi works part-time behind the museum counters while also studying to pursue Political honors . “I want to pursue Political science because of the situation back home.”
Like Tashi, thousands of Tibetans settled in different pockets of India from the 1960s, in places like Dharamshala, Coorg and even in cities like Delhi (Majnu ka tilla colony). In the 1957 book Seven years in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer writes how Tibet was a forbidden land for foreigners. Today it appears, the roles have reversed and Tibetans are forbidden from their own homeland, especially the ones who were born in India.
Many, like Tashi, have adopted India as their home but are insistent that they will use what they learn to fight the injustice happening in their homeland. .