A Tibetan student has self-immolated in India after shouting “freedom”, police said on Saturday, injuring himself critically.
Tenzin Choeying set himself on fire on Friday at the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state.
Self-immolation has regularly been used as a protest against China’s actions in Tibet. But Indian police said they are also investigating the 20-year-old’s recent exam failures as being a possible cause for his actions.
The International Campaign for Tibet identified the student as Tenzin Choeying. It quoted Chime Namgyal, head of the Tibetan Youth Congress activist group in Varanasi, as saying Choeying shouted “Victory to Tibet”.
Tenzin Tsundue, who visited Choeying at the hospital in Varanasi, told Al Jazeera that the patient is expected to survive.
“He is stable, the next five days are crucial, the doctor says,” he wrote in a Whatsapp message to Al Jazeera.
“My concern, as his brother, is to arrange for him the best treatment, and get him back to life.”
Tsundue also sent to Al Jazeera a note, which he said Choeying wrote before the incident.
In it, Choeying wrote in English, “Please don’t cry. Tell everyone that my body is for Tibet.”
Police said they were still investigating and will take statements from Choeying and his family. “The boy is recovering at the hospital. He can speak but has around 50 percent burns,” Sanjay Tripathi, a Varanasi police spokesman, told AFP news agency.
Religious repression accusations
China says its troops “liberated” Tibet in 1951, but many Tibetans accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture.
China rejects the accusations and blames the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader who lives in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala, of inciting self-immolations in a bid to split Tibet from the rest of the nation.
A young farmer self-immolated in southwest China in March, the first Tibetan to set himself on fire in 2017.
The Tibetan government-in-exile in India said he was the 146th Tibetan to self-immolate since 2009.
Choeying is the not the first Tibetan to set himself on fire in India. A Tibetan exile set himself alight and died two days later in New Delhi in 2012.