By Shibayan Raha (Indian activist working with the Tibetan movement):
There has been a raging controversy going on in the Indian mainstream media about the third highest Tibetan Religious leader His Holiness 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee’s alleged Chinese links. The allegations by the Himachal Pradesh Government and the HP police started appearing after the seizure of nearly Rs.1 crore in cash from two men in Una, HP. Karmapa’s residence in Sidhbari were raided subsequently and another 8 crore in cash were also recovered which had dollars, Chinese yuan’s. For us working with the Tibetan Movement, all these years, what is more demeaning to see was how a spiritual head and a whole community’s integrity towards India was put to test due to these baseless allegations.
I have been quite lucky to have met Karmapa twice and be blessed by him. For me the allegations against him are totally untrue without an inch of concrete proof. I know many people will now ask for theories behind my argument and here they are-
How was such a huge amount of cash received from his monastery?– Yes I do agree that 8 crore’s in cash was received from the Gyuto Monastery during police raids. As we all must be knowing that its a ritual among Tibetans and Buddhist followers to make cash offering to their guru’s and fresh notes are offered as a way to show their utmost devotion. The Karmapa’s lineage has follower’s all around the world including mainland China and ofcourse inside Tibet. So when these people come they always make donations in chinese currencies. The Karmapa’s office has been asking for permission to register under FCRA (Foreign Currency Regulation Act) to get this money properly regularised. The permission was given and then withdrawn for unspecified reasons. Hence all the money received was correctly documented in a register and kept in the dormitory of the monastery where all the monks sleep. Even so the Chinese currency (Yuan) accounts for less than 10 percent of the total cash received in about 20 different currencies. Does simply having chinese currencies prove that he or anyone is a Chinese spy?
Karmapa’s escape to India was stage managed — Mainstream Indian Media has reported from sources in the Indian intelligence that his escape from Tibet at the age of 14 was stage managed and that he was sent to India by the Chinese government to influence the Tibetan community in exile and the buddhist community in the border regions like Ladakh, Tawang etc. Labelling someone who escaped his country when he was a kid — of being brainwashed and following chinese orders is not only hilarious but also questions the entire investigation. His Holiness Karamapa’s first act on gaining his freedom was to make his way to Dharamsala to seek the Dalai Lama’s blessings and pledge his support to the Tibetan cause. Karmapa’s lineage, the Karma Kagyeu Sect has its seat in the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. The Chinese government had already recognised Sikkim as part of India well after his escape. Karmapa’s sect has whatsoever no influence in Tawang where the Gelug sect and the Nyingma sect reign supreme. To be more precise — Dalai Lama has more influence there and he has categorically stated that Arunachal is a part of the Indian territory.
Benami Land Deal- His Holiness the 17th Karmapa has been living as a guest in the Gyuto Tantric monastery in Sidhbari, Himachal Pradesh ever since he came to India. He has not been allowed to take his seat in the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim and hence the negotiations to buy a plot of Land in Himachal Pradesh was initiated. The land was not purchased illegally and it is in the process of being cleared by relevant Government departments and contrary to some mainstream media reports its not for a “China Study Center” or nowhere near the Indo-China border. The money seized was a legitimate payment for the land. It was paid in cash because the seller wanted it so and according to legal opinion this is permissible.
Chinese SIM card’s seized from the monastery– Â There were also reports in the media that Chinese SIM cards were seized from the Karmapa’s monastery citing sources. When the HP police was asked about this they completely denied and said nothing of this sort ever took place. The mainstream media should have some knowledge about how mobile networks work. Will a chinese SIM card work in India without coming under the radar of the Indian intelligence? Won’t it be easier to use a Indian SIM? Now when it is found that the allegations are baseless would the media care enough to issue an apology?
I have seen lot of Indian media hype and a section of Indian public opinion question the Tibetan community’s affection and integrity towards their host country. This is more demeaning to me than anything. India-Tibet relations are more than 1000 year old and an example of a perfect Guru Chela relationship. The Tibetan community in exile has stood by us in every weather in the last 50 years. They fought with us shoulder to shoulder in the Bangladesh war, recapturing strategic mountain peaks in Kargil during Operation Vijay, guarding our borders on the Siachen Galcier, anti-insurgency operations and so on. They have never complained about anything. Ask any Tibetan in any part of India about their feelings towards India and they will bow down in utmost respect for their host country. If we cant acknowledge their contribution then let us not question their integrity as well.
Let us take this opportunity and ask ourselves – do these people really deserved this? Are we not taking Freedom of Expression a little too far and aren’t we putting the very right of “Innocent until Proven Guilty” into question by labelling him as a spy?
The writer, Shibayan Raha, is an Indian activist working with the Tibetan Movement. To know more about him and his work, read our previous feature on him: “If somebody is oppressed, you cannot be free yourself”
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