Cash haul in Karmapa raid

Jan 27, 2011

Category: Police Raid Jan 2011

Dharamshala/Shimla, Jan. 27: Himachal Pradesh police today raided the 17th Karmapa’s home in Dharamshala and claimed to have seized six suitcases containing unexplained cash in Indian and foreign currencies that could amount to crores.

Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje, now 25, is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism and has been in Dharamshala since his headline-making escape to India in January 2000, aged 14.

Sources said the government had increasingly curbed the movements of the “Boy Karmapa” over the past few years under suspicion that Beijing had stage-managed his “escape” so he could keep an eye on the Dalai Lama’s activities.

Today’s raids on the Gyuto Tantric Monastic University, where the Karmapa lives, followed yesterday’s seizure of Rs 1.25 crore in Una town from a vehicle that was allegedly carrying some monks to Dharamshala.

“The monastery was raided around 1.30pm. Three currency-counting machines from three local banks have been pressed into service. The counting is still on. The police so far have counted Rs 5 lakh in Indian currency and a huge amount of foreign currency,” Kangra superintendent of police Diljeet Singh Thakur said.

Sources later said some 4,000 Euros had been counted and that the Indian currency could run up to more than Rs 10 crore. The police are trying to ascertain the source of the cash and also whether the money seized yesterday belonged to the Karmapa.

A close aide of the Karmapa, Rabjaychojan alias Shakti Lama, has been arrested and questioned about the source of the money. Some of the money is in the currencies of China, Japan, America, Britain, Australia and Thailand, police said.

The Karmapa was said to be inside the monastery during the raids but there was no word from him or any of his aides on the search or the seizures.

Two men, Asutosh and Sanjay, were arrested after yesterday’s seizure of cash, which sources said had been drawn from a private-sector bank in Delhi.

Dorje has been under the security agencies’ scanner since his arrival in India. He lives in Sidhbari, 10km from the Dalai Lama’s residence. The Centre has confined the Karmapa’s movements within 15km of his home for sometime, and does not allow him to visit the Dalai Lama too frequently.

“On July 25, 2009, the Karmapa was given only 30 minutes to meet the Dalai Lama. Earlier, three consecutive requests from him to see the spiritual leader were turned down,” a source close to the Dalai Lama said.

Since July 2008, the Centre has refused to let the Karmapa visit other monasteries in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir that are located close to the China border.

Dorje has also been banned from travelling abroad. He had toured the US in 2008, when he visited New York and San Francisco in an attempt to raise his international profile. He is keen to visit America again but the government has not budged.

The Karmapa’s Z-plus security cover was withdrawn a couple of months ago; so he is now guarded by a single police constable instead of 24 security personnel. Till 2006, he was always escorted by a group of four aides but that was stopped after the security agencies objected.

A month ago, when the Karmapa began building a multi-crore religious structure on a 75-acre site in Kotla, 42km from Dharamshala, the income tax department and security agencies questioned the source of funding. The foreign ministry later ordered the construction stopped.

Followers of the Karma Kagyu sect, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, are believed to be the richest among Tibetans. The Karmapa’s followers often controversially project him as the successor to the Dalai Lama, who heads the Gelug sect.

The Karmapa’s official seat is the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, but Dorje cannot go there because of the emergence of a rival Karmapa.

If the government keeps refusing to allow him to travel abroad, Dorje will likely have to spend the rest of his life in Sidhbari, sources said.



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