Unaccounted donations meant to buy land for the monastery: Karmapa

Written by Shishir Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 1 2011, 04:22am hrs
As the 17th Karmapa was questioned on Sunday morning by central agencies, including the enforcement directorate, in Dharamsala over unaccounted foreign currency, New Delhi is cautious in its response to the Dalai Lama's defence of Ugyen Trinley Dorje.

Top government sources said Dorje's questioning began at 10.30 am and he maintained his innocence claiming that the unaccounted money came in the form of donations from his followers and was being used to purchase land for the monastery.

Enforcement agencies are expected to file a case under violation of foreign exchange rules against the accused as nearly Rs 7.5 crore in suitcases, including 11 lakh Chinese Yuan, has been recovered from the monastery in Dharamsala.

In spite of having been recognised by the Dalai Lama after Dorje dramatically escaped to India from Chinese custody in Tolung Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet on December 28, 1999, he has been under watch by Indian agencies as a section of the security establishment is wary of his links with Beijing. Dorje and his mentor Tai Situ Rinpoche have been given a diplomatic passport by the Royal Bhutanese government. Dorje travelled to Hong Kong in 2009 and held meetings with Chinese officials.

There are two other claimants to the title of 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, head of Karma Kagyu sect, including Trinley Thay Dorje, who was appointed by Shamar Rinpoche, in Okhla Institutional Area, Delhi in early 1990s. Due to this confusion, New Delhi has banned entry of the 17th Karmapa to Rumtek, the official seat of Kagyu Sect head, as treasures of gold, money and the Black Hat are stored there for the rightful contender. The matter is being contested in the Sikkim High Court.

However, representatives of the Tibetan government in exile defended the Karmapa and said he had nothing to do with the Chinese government. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the 17th Karmapa will do nothing to harm Indian interests... the unaccounted cash seized is donations from his followers, said a top Tibetan official.