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Karmapa row: Police custody for hotelier, banker

Last Updated: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 11:59

Dharamsala: A Dharamsala hotelier and a Haryana bank manager have been sent to police remand after they were arrested following the recovery of nearly Rs 7 crore in unaccounted foreign and Indian currency from Tibetan leader Karmapa Lama`s monastery, an official said here on Monday.

"Both KP Bhardwaj (the hotelier) and DK Dhar (manager of the Corporation Bank of Ambala) were sent to police remand till Feb 5 by an Una court Sunday night," Inspector General of Police PL Thakur told a news agency.

He said Bhardwaj was arrested Saturday as an unaccounted Rs 1 crore was seized from two of his men at Mehatpur in Una district of Himachal Pradesh Jan 25.

Bhardwaj had claimed that the Rs 1 crore recovered from the men was a payment made by the Karmapa`s trust to buy land near Dharamsala in Kangra district.

It was after the seizure of this Rs 1 crore that the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery, where the Karmapa has been residing for the last few years with his followers, was raided and about Rs 7 crore in foreign and Indian currency recovered.

The Karmapa was quizzed Jan 28 as well.

Dhar, manager of the bank, was also arrested Saturday night for allegedly facilitating a transaction of Rs 1 crore to Bhardwaj. The charge against Dhar was that he had prepared a fake document and handed it over to Bhardwaj`s men for carrying Rs 1 crore from Delhi to Dharamsala.

Denying all allegations, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Sunday again told the investigating agencies that the money seized during the raids was given by his devotees and he had not done anything to harm India`s interests.

Naresh Mathur, the Karmapa`s counsel, told reporters here on Sunday that the monastery made a payment of Rs 1 crore in cash in Delhi apart from a payment of Rs 75 lakh through a cheque to the land seller. He said this much payment in cash is permissible under the income tax act provisions.

On seizure of huge unaccounted money from the monastery during the raids, Mathur said the central government has already been informed about the offerings the monastery is getting from the devotees, including the foreigners.

"Since 2003, the administrative wing of the monastery has been asking the central government for permission to handle foreign currency received in donations but the government has rejected the plea on the ground that there is no such provision once somebody had got the currency," he said.

But Thakur said, "He is knowingly hiding some facts by showing feigned ignorance about the foreign currency and other cash."

"Quite possibly, he will be interrogated again in the next few days," he said, adding that "even some more staff of the monastery would be grilled".

The Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism. He is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

The Karmapa fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived in the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.


First Published: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 11:59

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