Aide to Karmapa Lama arrested

Jan 28, 2011

Category: Police Raid Jan 2011

An aide to the Karmapa Lama, third ranking high lama in the ‘yellow hat’ branch of Tibetan Buddhism, was found in possession of a large sum of money of unknown origin. Tibetan political leaders defend the Karmapa, who will likely be called to lead the Tibetan Diaspora after the death of the Dalai Lama.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) – Indian police took into custody an aide to the Karmapa Lama, the third ranking lama in the ‘yellow hat’ branch of Tibetan Buddhism, on charges of possessing unexplained amounts of money, the Indian Express reported today. The arrest was part of a money-laundering sting operation at the Buddhist monastery of Gyuto, which is near the city of Dharamsala, in northern India, home to the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Indian law enforcement officials seized Indian and foreign currencies estimated at around US$ 765,000. The money was stashed in six suitcases found in the room of Shakti Lama, a close aide to the 17th Karmapa Lama, also known as the ‘black hat lama’. He is viewed as a probable Tibetan leader after the death of the Dalai Lama. At the time of the raid, Karmapa Ugyen Trinley was in the monastery.

The money seized included dollars, euros, pounds, yen and currencies from a total of 25 countries, including China.

The total amount found is not known yet, and there are different accounts among Indian sources, but Director General of Police D S Manhas said, “We suspect that the entire currency was brought to the state illegally, possibly through hawala routes”. The hawala is an informal value transfer system run by a large network of money brokers working on the honour principle.

More raids are underway in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Ambala and Dharamshala.

In an another anti-money laundering operation, the authorities arrested two people in Una, a district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, home to many Buddhist monasteries. Some ten million rupees (US$ 220,000) were found in the possession of two people. The money was reportedly drawn from a bank located in a New Delhi neighbourhood home to Tibetan refugees.

The Karmapa Lama is the third highest lama in Tibetan Buddhism’s hierarchy. The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama come before him.

All three are linked to one another since each has had (for centuries) to recognise the reincarnation of one of other. The current Karmapa is 27-year-old and fled Tibet in a daring escape with his family in 1994 and joined the Dalai Lama in India.

China wants to break the line of succession, and has already abducted the real Panchen Lama, replacing him with a political appointee.

When the current Dalai Lama dies, Tibetans feel the Karmapa must lead the exiled community until the rebirth and recognition of the next Dalai. The police probe now underway tries to discredit him, since under Tibetan law high lamas are held responsible for the actions of their subordinates.

Penpa Tsering, speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, told AsiaNews, “I have personally no connection to the Karmapa institution. However, in my personal view, I think the Karmapa has nothing to do with this. Whether there are people around him, or people who are using his name to do things, I cannot say, but I am sure that the Karmapa is 100 per cent innocent.”

“For me,” he added, “the Karmapa is another incarnation of the high lama for whom I have respect. His house is not nearby, but at Gyuto monastery in Dharamsala. This is most unfortunate. I heard the news from the media. But as a person and as a religious leader, the Karmapa is definitely innocent”.



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Thaye Dorje Urgyen Dorje

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