India: The last soldier who protected the Dalai Lama dies after taking off from Tibet
The last survivor of a small group of Indian soldiers who rescued the Dalai Lama after fleeing Lhasa in 1959 has died at the age of 85, his regiment said on Friday.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, then a young monk and now 86, fled Tibet because of advancing Chinese troops. He reached India after a nearly two-week journey in the Himalayas disguised as a soldier to escape the Chinese troops.
Naren Chandra Das, who died at his home in northeastern Assam state on Monday, was 22 at the time and completed his training in the body of the Assam Rifles, the oldest Indian paramilitary unit.
He along with six other soldiers escorted the monk to Lumla in Arunachal Pradesh (Northeast) on March 31, 1959.
The former soldier told local media about the operation last year: The Dalai Lama was riding a horse and soldiers were marching through the mountainous region. The soldiers were not allowed to talk to the young monk while they were carrying him.
The Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in northern India since his flight from Tibet, which became a Chinese province in 1959, and Naren Chandra Das met in April 2017 for the first time in nearly 60 years.
“Looking at your face, I realized that I am too old,” the Dalai Lama told the ex-serviceman during a ceremony in the city of Guwahati (East India).
The following year, Naren Chandra Das was invited to Dharamsala, a city at the foot of the Indian Himalayas, where the Dalai Lama, with the permission of New Delhi, established a Tibetan government in exile. “I went with my family and he hugged me. They even gave me a souvenir. I will never forget our meeting,” the ex-serviceman said last year.
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