Shimla: In a major crackdown, police arrested eight Chinese nationals on charges of overstaying after raiding a fortified monastery in Mandi district and claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh, USD 3000 and SIM cards.
Some Chinese escaped before the raids, which were carried out last night in Chauntra village in Mandi, 150 kms from here, following inputs by central intelligence agencies.
Besides currency, police also recovered mobile phones suspected to have Chinese SIM cards and international ATM cards.
The raids came within days of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama saying he had been passed reports from inside Tibet warning that Chinese agents had trained Tibetan women for a mission to poison him while posing as devotees seeking his blessings.
Additional Director General of Police S.R Mardi said it was too early to conclude that those arrested were Chinese spies.
DGP D S Manhas said police had received information that illegal activities may be going on in this resettlement area.
"Based upon these intelligence inputs, the searches were carried out yesterday and we were able to apprehend eight Chinese who were staying there illegally and had not reported to the police," he told reporters today.
Manhas said the Chinese, holding expired tourist visas, were found working and further investigations were underway. Some of them were engaged as masons, carpenters and electricians.
"We have registered two cases and huge cash of Rs 30 lakh and USD 3000 has also been recovered," he said.
When contacted in Delhi, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson said, "We have noticed the reports and we are seeking details from the Ministry of External Affairs".
Manhas said Income Tax authorities have been informed about the seizures.
"Definitely for the last six-eight months we have been getting some intelligence inputs and there were two cases reported where Chinese were found overstaying without any basic documentation and without any intimation," he said.
"So, we are taking all intelligence inputs seriously so that the security of the Dalai Lama is not compromised in any way," he said.
In Shimla, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said before the raids some Chinese had escaped from the spot.
"It is a matter of serious security concern," Dhumal said, seeking a joint probe by central and state investigating agencies.
He also sought Centre`s assistance to beef up the security of Dalai Lama and Karmapa Lama, another top Tibetan Buddhist leader.
The arrested Chinese nationals have been living in the house, protected by a 15-foot high wall, for quite some time, police said.
The police was investigating as to how these Chinese nationals managed to come together in a remote village like Chauntra.
SP, Mandi, A Dhullar said the Chinese were working as carpenters and painters in the under-construction house.
"They had taken employment when they had only tourist visa," he said.
While the External Affairs Ministry said it was ascertaining details in the case, the Home Ministry said that the arrested Chinese were working for a contractor from Sikkim.