Sixty years after fleeing Tibet, refugees in India get passports, not property

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Event organizer Lobsang Wangyal has to travel overseas often, but as a Tibetan refugee born in India, he did not have a passport and sometimes had to wait days to get the mandatory permits every time he went abroad.

So Wangyal, whose parents fled Tibet as teenagers, went to court to demand his right to an Indian passport.

In response to his petition, the Delhi High Court said authorities must abide by an earlier ruling that all Tibetans born in India between January 1950 and July 1987 are Indian citizens by birth, and can be issued passports.

The order came into effect in March, and Wangyal got his Indian passport shortly thereafter, using it to go to Thailand, reports Reuters.

For the first time, he was spared the additional scrutiny that his documents always got from immigration officials.

“I feel like a real person now, having obtained a passport,” said Wangyal, 47, who was born in a Tibetan settlement in eastern Odisha state and now lives in the hill town Dharamsala.

“Tibetans are seen as refugees and as stateless in India. Being seen that way after having been born and lived our whole lives in India is unfair and impractical,” he said.

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