It was an emotional sight for many when the Dalai Lama embraced Naren Chandra Das, one of the soldiers of the Assam Rifles group that escorted him in India during his escape from Tibet in March 1959.
Now retired, Havildar Naren Chandra Das was overwhelmed at the warm gesture of the revered spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
An emotional Dalai Lama said, “I am very, very happy to meet such an old member of the Assam Rifles who guarded and escorted me to India 58 years ago.”
Das, now 76, was a young jawan posted at Tulung-la in Arunachal Pradesh near the China border in 1959. He had joined the force just two years ago.
Recalling the incident, Das told reporters that his group were tasked with escorting the Dalai Lama from Shakti.
“Guards of Assam Rifles Platoon no. 9 had brought the Dalai Lama from Zuthangbo and handed him over to five of us at Shakti. We brought him to Tulung-la from where he was escorted on his onward journey to Tawang by another group of guards,” the retired jawan said.
He said that during the journey, the Dalai Lama and he had no interaction. The Assam Rifles soldiers were not allowed to talk or interact with him.
Guwahati: The Dalai Lama yesterday met former Assam Rifles jawan Naren Das who escorted him to India 58 years ago pic.twitter.com/D9ev2cNGP1
— ANI (@ANI_news) April 3, 2017
Das, who is the last living soldier of that group, was presented a silk shawl by the Dalai Lama, who in his characteristic wit, told the retired soldier, “Looking at your face, I now realize I must be very old, too.”
The event was organized by the Assam Government as part of the Namami Brahmaputra River festival. Many senior officials from the Assam Rifles were present on the occasion.
The Dalai Lama had yesterday also expressed his thanks to Indian government for letting him stay in India like a free man.
Now over 58 yrs, I am longest guest of Indian govt. So, am paying back by becoming messenger of ancient Indian talk, knowledge: Dalai Lama pic.twitter.com/ZHwh2mFicd
— ANI (@ANI_news) April 2, 2017