The regiment said Friday that the last survivor of a small group of Indian soldiers accompanying the Dalai Lama as he fled Lhasa in 1959 died at the age of 85.
Then a young monk, the 86-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader, fled Tibet after a failed anti-Chinese uprising, arriving in India nearly two weeks after crossing the Himalayas, disguised as a soldier to escape the Chinese army. Tibet became an autonomous region of China in 1965.
Naren Chandra Das, who died on Monday at his home in the (northeast) Indian state of Assam, was 22 years old, had just completed his training in India’s oldest paramilitary unit, the Assam Rifles.
On March 31, 1959, seven soldiers, including Naren Chandra Das, accompanied the monk to Lumla in Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India.
Last year, the ex-soldier told local media about the trip through the Himalayas: the Dalai Lama traveled on horseback and soldiers on foot, without being allowed to speak to the young monk.
The 86-year-old Dalai Lama, exiled in northern India since fleeing Tibet, and Narin Chandra Das met again, for the first time in nearly 60 years, in April 2017.
“Looking at your face, I realize I must be very old too,” the Dalai Lama told the ex-soldier during a ceremony in the eastern Indian city of Guwahati.
The following year, Naren Chandra Das was invited to Dharamsala, located in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas and where the Dalai Lama established the Tibetan government-in-exile, with New Delhi’s permission.
The former soldier said, “I went there with my family and he hugged me. He also gave me a souvenir. I will never forget our meeting.”
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