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Remembering the Havildar who helped Dalai Lama escape Chinese

Havildar Naren was the lone surviving jawan from among the band of seven Assam Rifles warriors who had successfully escorted and accompanied the Dalai Lama to Indian soil in 1959

Remembering Havildar Naren Chandra Das who escorted Dalai Lama while he was fleeing
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New Delhi, First Published Dec 30, 2021, 10:45 AM IST
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Havildar Naren Chandra Das, who had received and escorted Tenzin Gyatso -- the 14th Dalai Lama  -- when he arrived in India from Tibet in 1959, passed away on Tuesday. He was 83. The Assam Rifles jawan was posted at the Lungla post along the India-China border. He was 22 years old then.

Havildar Naren was the lone surviving jawan from among the band of seven Assam Rifles warriors who had successfully escorted and accompanied the Dalai Lama to Indian soil in 1959, Assam Rifles DG Lt Gen PC Nair said.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was accompanied by 20 of his cabinet members and soldiers and his family members. Having managed to hoodwink the Chinese forces in Lhasa, the Dalai Lama and his entourage had to traverse through difficult terrain, which also included the mighty Brahmaputra river. Two weeks later, the Dalai Lama reached Lhuntse Dzong near the McMahon Line border between India and Tibet. It was from here that the spiritual leader rushed a letter to then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru seeking refuge. India responded and Assam Rifles soldiers from Chuthangmu, a tiny outpost near Tawang, were tasked with escorting the Dalai Lama to safety

With the help of the American Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division, Dalai Lama crossed over into Indian territory on March 30, 1959, following the Tibetan uprising and reached Tezpur on April 18. A seven-member team of the Assam Rifles had escorted him to Tezpur. 

Das took his last breath in his village, Lokra of Sunitpur district in Assam. Dalai Lama had met him at Guwahati in 2018. In a statement, the Central Tibetan Administration mourned Havildar Naren's demise and offered its condolences.

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