Cash row: Karmapa questioned again; aide denies China link

The clarification came amid growing suspicion over recovery of unaccounted foreign and Indian currency worth nearly Rs 7 crore from the monastery.

Last Updated: Jan 30, 2011, 19:52 PM IST

Dharamsala/Shimla: Police on Sunday questioned
the Karmapa who got the backing of Tibetan spiritual leader,
the Dalai Lama, even as they arrested two more persons in
connection with the seizure of foreign currency worth over
Rs 7.5 crore from the offices of a trust backed by him.

The Karmapa denied any Chinese links and said the
charges against him were "grossly speculative and without
foundation".

A team of state police officers put about 50
questions to Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Gyuto Monastery at
Sidhbari but he feigned complete ignorance about the foreign
currency and other documents recovered from there.

The police said they had given him the set of questions
pertaining to the recovery of money and functioning of the
Monastery but he completely dissociated himself with the
developments and maintained that the affairs of the Trust were
managed by Shakti Lama and Gompu Tshering and his role was
only confined to "preachings" as a religious head.

The team, led by Additional Superintendent of Police,
Una, KG Kapoor, gave the questionnaire that was in English
and he replied through an interpreter, Inspector General of
Police PLThakur told a news agency noting that the investigations were
on and the Karmapa might be questioned again after more
information and inputs were available.

Karmapa denied all allegations and said the money was
donated by devotees, who come from all over the world and
belonged to the Trust.

Dharamsala-based businessman KP Bhardwaj and Manager of
Ambala branch of the Corporation Bank DK Dhar were arrested
last night following raids conducted at the residence and
hotel of Bharadwaj and clues provided by him during
questioning with regard to the money trail, the IGP said.

With this, the number of people taken into custody has
risen to five.

Backing the Karmapa, the Dalai Lama told reporeters in
Bangalore, "He (Karmapa) is an important Lama" and demanded a
thorough probe into the seizure of foreign currency.

Apparently explaining the huge Chinese currency haul,
the Dalai Lama said, "The Karmapa has many devotees including
from China ...Some money would have naturally being received
by him... There has been some negligence... (It is) better now
to have a thorough investigation."

A statement by the Karmapa`s office said, "We
categorically deny having any link whatsoever with any arm of
the Chinese government and like to state that the allegations
being levelled against the Karmapa and his administration are
grossly speculative and without foundation in the truth as
everyone who knows the history of our lineage and struggle is
surprised by the allegations."

The replies of Karmapa were identical to the contents
of the statement issued by Karma Chungyalpa, Deputy General
Secretary and spokesperson of the Karmapa Office.

Karma said "repressive measures including pressure put
by China on Tibetan spiritual and temporal head, the Dalai
Lama, were the reasons for the Karmapa?s escape from Tibet."

He further said, "Monasteries across the world accept
offerings from devotees in various forms and there is nothing
surprising, new or irregular in this.

"A representative of Dalai Lama`s office underlined
this yesterday and the cash in question under the current
investigation by the police is offerings received for
charitable purposes from local and international disciples
from many different countries wishing to support Karmapa’s
various charitable activities and any suggestion that these
offerings were to be used for illegal purposes is libellous."

Referring to recovery of Chinese currency, the
statement said, "About the Chinese currency we can say that
his Holiness has a large following of Tibetans who make
donations in Chinese currency. The fact is that the Karmapa
has millions of followers around the world, who hold him in
the highest esteem, and reverence and all our dealings across
the world are honest and completely transparent and anything
else would be contrary to the Buddhist principals that we live
by."

On the two arrests, the IGP said Bhardwaj had claimed
that the Rs one crore recovered from the vehicle was paid by
the Karmapa’s trust for buying buy land near Dharamsala.

He said Bharadwaj had told the police that the bank
manager had issued an "authorisation letter" that the money
was meant for some land deal.

The police arrested two persons -- Ashutosh and Sanjay
Dutt -- on January 26 after alleged recovery of Rs 1 crore and
later nabbed Shakti Lama, a key functionary of the Karmapa
backed trust, who were remanded in police custody for nine
days.

The residence and office of Monastery functionary
Gompu Tshering were raided yesterday and foreign currency in
US dollars worth Rs 4-lakh was recovered.

The sleuths of Intelligence Bureau, Enforcement
Directorate and Income Tax Department have also joined the
probe.

"The police have so far not reached any conclusion
about the source of the money and all documents including the
computer of Karmapa were being thoroughly scanned," Thakur
said, adding that the police had never said anything about
"Chinese links" of the Karmapa.

PTI