Top Tibetan monk raided by Indian police

Jan 28, 2011

Category: Police Raid Jan 2011

DHARAMSHALA, India, Jan 28, 2011 (AFP) - Indian police have raided the monastery of a top Buddhist monk seen as possibly Tibet's next spiritual leader and seized an unspecified amount of cash, a senior officer said Friday.

Police swooped on the Karmapa's monastery in Dharamshala, a hill station in northern India, on Thursday and returned Friday to question staff about the origins of local and foreign bank notes discovered on the premises.

"Questioning is going on at the monastery to find out where the money came from," district police superintendent Santosh Patiyal told AFP.

He said they acted after finding cash from the monastery during a routine search elsewhere in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The money was intended for a land deal according to preliminary enquiries, Patiyal said.

At the bustling Gyotu monastery in the foothills of the towering Himalayas the Karmapa receives visitors on a regular basis, many of whom leave offerings or donations.

The 27-year-old Tibetan is one of the most revered religious figures in his homeland, but has lived in Dharamshala since fleeing to India in 1999 in an eight-day journey by foot and horseback across the mountains.

A source in the monastery, who asked not to be named, said that 15-20 police were present on Friday and that they had seized "a few things". The Karmapa was in his residence, though the source did not say if he had been questioned.

"We don't want to comment at this stage because it is still ongoing," he told AFP by telephone. "They (the police) are still here."

The Express newspaper said cash totalling 35 million rupees (US$765,000) was seized by police stuffed inside four large suitcases, while PTI news agency said there were six bags holding 400,000 rupees (US$9,000).

Neither of the figures could be immediately confirmed by AFP.

The Express also said that an aide to the Karmapa had been arrested. Dharamshala has been home to the Tibetan community in exile, including the Dalai Lama, since 1960 when India granted the community land and facilities.

The Karmapa is officially recognised by China and in Tibet as one of the most senior spiritual leaders and is widely seen as a figure who could unite the Tibetan movement once the ageing Dalai Lama dies.

He has said he fled Tibet because he was concerned that Beijing would force him to turn against the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual head of Tibet who has acted as a father-like figure for the Karmapa in Dharamshala.

China regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist and has sought to groom monks who would accept Tibet as being an integral part of China.



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