Rs.6 crore currency seized from Karmapa’s monastery


Dharamsala : Himachal Pradesh Police Friday again raided the monastery of 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorjee, the third most important Tibetan spiritual leader, on the outskirts of this town and seized about Rs.6 crore of unaccounted foreign and Indian currency, a police official said.

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“We raided the offices located in the premises of Gyuto Tantric monastery along with several central government agencies on the second day again. Foreign and Indian currency to the tune of Rs.6 crore was seized so far from there,” Additional Director General of Police S.R. Mardi told IANS.

He said the recovered foreign currency included Chinese yuan, US dollar, Hong Kong dollar and Euros. “The Indian rupee amounted to Rs.53 lakh,” he added.

The raids on the Karmapa monastery in Sidhbari were conducted Thursday after the police arrested two people at Mehatpur in Una district a day before and seized unaccounted Rs.1 crore from them.

Police believe the money was meant for some “illegal” land deal in Dharamsala in Kangra district with the involvement of Karmapa’s aide Rubgi Chosang.

Chosang, who was an accountant in the monastery, was arrested Friday. He was sent to police custody for nine days by a Una court.

On questioning the Karmapa and other high-ranking officials and monks in the monastery for their alleged role in amassing huge unaccounted money, Mardi said: “We have full respect for them. Our investigation has been zeroed on only Chosang and two others.”

The seizure of unaccounted money rings alarm bells regarding the involvement of the exiled Tibetans in buying “benami” or illegal properties in and around this town, the abode of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Director General of Police D.S. Manhas said: “We are investigating the cases by involving top central agencies. It (investigation) is progressing in the right direction. We will also investigate whether there is any investment in illegal properties or the money was meant for that.”

In November 2010, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had issued notice to the Tibetan government-in-exile, the government of India and the state government regarding permission granted to Tibetan refugees for purchase of land in the state.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice V.K. Ahuja passed the order on a petition challenging the action of the state authorities to allow Tibetans to purchase land in the state.

The petition said this was in violation of Section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, which barred outsiders from purchasing land in the state.

According to a petition, the Tibetan refugees have purchased lands on the basis of false and forged documents.

The court directed the respondents to file a reply within two months. The next hearing is set for March 21, 2011.

The Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism. He is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

The Karmapa fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived in the Gyuto Tantric monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala – the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.