Beijing, Feb 7 (IANS) As many as 70 people have been arrested in China in connection with a string of self-immolations that have occurred in a Tibetan region since November 2012, police said Thursday.
The suspects were arrested in Huangnan Tibetan region in northwest China's Qinghai province, Xinhua reported.
Blaming the Dalai Lama-led group for masterminding and inciting the self-immolations, the chief of a special police team said: "Some of the victims were frustrated and pessimistic in life, and they wanted to earn respect by self-immolation."
"A few individuals with a strong sense of extreme nationalism showed sympathy with the self-immolators and followed their example," he added.
The self-immolation cases were influenced by the "separatism" of the Dalai Lama-led group, the officer said.
A police investigation found that some people set themselves ablaze to achieve both "fame" and economic gains.
"Investigations showed that 8,000 yuan was arranged to be given directly to the Dalai Lama and the rest to monks attending the ritual," the police official told Xinhua.
"The money has not been remitted, yet overseas people have advanced the fees for him. There has been hard evidence to prove that the Dalai Lama clique has both claimed lives and swindled people," he said.
Recently, the Tibetan government-in-exile said in New Delhi that 99 self-immolation incidents had taken place in Tibet since 2009.
It said those people set themselves afire to protest Beijing's "repressive policies" and demand the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland.
China's state-run daily Global Times has blamed the Dalai Lama-led group of Tibetans of making "false charges" against the Chinese government.
The Dalai Lama group "deliberately creates an atmosphere of terror to attract the attention of the international community and chases its political purposes by using the lives of young people", it said.