Udayavni Special

India vs China: Atal Bihari Vajpayee once drove 800 sheep to Chinese embassy

Team Udayavani, Jul 7, 2020, 11:09 AM IST

The tussle between India and China has been going on for a long time. In 1962, when India lost in the war with China, the country made false accusations against our soldiers but was rattled by the sheer political brilliance of a young Indian parliamentarian Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1965.

Sources claim, China had accused India of stealing a flock of 800 sheep and 49 yaks, from a Tibetan herdsman near the Sikkim border.

China demanded the animals be returned along with the four ‘missing’ shepherds. India denied knowledge about the livestock or the men.

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement that Indian troops had not kidnapped any Tibetans nor seized any livestock. The statement read: ‘If the Tibetans with sheep and yaks had indeed crossed over, they were free to return if they desired to do so.’

But the response that Vajpayee, then a 42-year-old Jan Sangh leader, gave left China fuming.

Vajpayee arranged for a herd of around 800 sheep and drove them to the Chinese embassy in New Delhi in late September. The sheep had placards tied saying, “Eat me but save the world”

Chinese embassy was annoyed by the move and complained that the protesters were ‘a mob of Indian hooligans whose mischievous agitation was supported by the Indian government’.

In its response, India replied confirming that “some of the citizens of Delhi took in procession about 800 sheep. The Government of India had nothing to do with this demonstration. It was a spontaneous, peaceful and good-humoured expression of the resentment of the citizens of Delhi against the Chinese ultimatum and the threat of war against India on trumped-up and trivial issues.”

China had alleged that  the four Tibetan inhabitants had been kidnapped by the Indian soldiers. India had responded saying, “Like other Tibetan refugees these four people had come into India on their own volition and without our permission and taken refuge in India. They are free to go back to Tibet at any time if they desire to do so.”

Earlier, two Tibetan women named Damque and Jitzongm disappeared from a place called Khampa Dzong in Tibet close to the Sikkim border. It is said that the escaped from China-occupied Tibet and the border and reached Sikkim. Later, they went to the Indian police and complained about the miserable living conditions in Tibet. But, Chinese accused Indians of abducting the women.

China wanted India to hand over these women and some other Tibetans who had fled seeking refuge in India.

Government of India responded, “Apropos the 800 sheep and 59 yaks the Government of India have already given a reply in the clearest terms possible. We know nothing of the yaks and as regards the sheep it is up to the two herdsmen concerned to take them to Tibet if and when they choose to go back to their homeland.”

However, four decades later Vajpayee became India’s prime minister and visited China in 2003 and also reopened the trade route from Sikkim via the Nathu La pass

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