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Last Updated: Friday, 13 June, 2003, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
Dalai Lama visits Kashmir
By Altaf Hussain
BBC correspondent in Srinagar

The Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has arrived in Indian-administered Kashmir on a three-week visit.

Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama will be in the region for more than three weeks
People from all faiths and religions gathered to welcome the Dalai Lama to the Buddhist-majority district of Leh.

Among those present were the state's deputy chief minister, Mangat Ram Sharma, and several state ministers.

The Buddhists of Leh have been demanding a separate state.

Thousands of people, wearing traditional Ladakhi dress, lined the four-kilometre road from the airport to Choglamsar, where the Dalai Lama will stay in a "palace" built exclusively for him 15 years ago.

Religious harmony

Muslim leaders were among those who met the Dalai Lama at the palace.

Addressing those present, the Dalai Lama praised the people of Leh for their religious harmony and told them to keep it up.

He said his mission was to promote peace and prosperity.

The Dalai Lama plans to meditate at the palace for about a week before undertaking tours to various parts of Leh and the neighbouring district of Kargil.

He will also visit Tibetan refugees who have lived in Leh since the annexation of Tibet by China in the 1950s.

The Dalai Lama aims to give religious sermons at Choglamsar from the 26 June and is scheduled to conclude his visit on 3 July.


Leh is the only Buddhist-majority district in Indian-administered Kashmir.

It is one of the two districts of Ladakh, the other being Kargil which has a majority of Shia Muslims.

Buddhists and Muslims in the two districts have had a chequered relationship.

Buddhists launched a militant movement for secession in 1989 which was marked by a socio-economic boycott of the minority Muslim community.


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