Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is visiting Ladakh, the first visit after Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two Union Territories in August 2019.
The visit is likely to upset China amid a prolonged standoff between the Chinese People's Liberation Army, or PLA, and the Indian Army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
Soon after the Dalai Lama reached Jammu, he tried to send a message to China that he is not seeking a complete independence of Tibet, but preservation of Tibetan Buddhist culture and a meaningful autonomy within China.
"Not Chinese people, but some Chinese hardliners consider me a separatist," said the Dalai Lama.
"Now more and more Chinese realise that Dalai Lama is not seeking independence but within China a meaningful autonomy to preserve Tibetan Buddhist culture," he said.
The spiritual leader was welcomed by hundreds of people from Ladakh as he arrived in Jammu on Thursday. The 14th Dalai Lama will fly to Leh on Friday, where he is expected to stay for a month.
Recently, China criticised India and alleged interference in its internal affairs after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the Dalai Lama and wished him on his 87th birthday.
China had strongly objected to constitutional changes in Jammu and Kashmir and carving out Ladakh as a Union Territory in August 2019.
Months later, in April 2020, Chinese troops started a massive troop build-up along the LAC and tried to capture Indian territory in eastern Ladakh. The Indian Army responded by sending troops and military equipment in equal measure in the region.
The Galwan Valley clashes in June 2020 where 20 jawans gave their lives for the country pushed the situation to the brink. Many Chinese soldiers were killed.
Since then both sides have held multiple rounds of military and diplomatic talks to deescalate tensions.
The next round of military commanders' talks will be held in the next few days.