State not informed on clean chit to Karmapa: Dhumal

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SHIMLA - Even as the central government is believed to have given a clean chit to Tibetan religious leader Karmapa on the recovery of unaccounted currency from his monastery, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal Tuesday said the state was not informed in this regard.

Replying to a question by Congress member Kaul Singh in the state assembly, Dhumal said: “Clean chit on what?”

“I have seen media reports about the central government’s clean chit to the Karmapa, but wondered how the centre has reached the conclusion as investigations are still on (in the state),” he said.

“We have not received any information from the central government (regarding the clean chit),” the chief minister stressed.

Dhumal said, however, it was neither mandatory for the centre to inform the state government nor desirable on the part of the state to seek such information from the central government.

“If the central government feels it appropriate, it can inform us (on clean chit). Our investigations are on,” he added.

Top officials of the Karmapa had said Feb 17 that the central government, while signalling a clean chit to the Tibetan leader in the controversy over unaccounted foreign currency, wanted him to register his trust and also apprise monastery functionaries on Indian laws.

According to a senior monastery functionary, a delegation from the Karmapa establishment had met senior home ministry officials in New Delhi, including Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, and that they (ministry officials) seemed quite convinced that the Karmapa had no role in dealing with financial affairs.

Dhumal said in the assembly that foreign currency of 25 countries, including 120,197 Chinese yuan and $647,396 and 642,740 Hong Kong dollars were recovered from the monastery near Dharamsala.

“The recovered currency also included Rs.53,65,265 Indian currency,” he said.

Police Jan 28 recovered currency from the Karmapa’s Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery, where he has been residing for the last few years with his followers.

On the ongoing investigation, Dhumal said: “We are not vindictive against any individual. Whosoever is staying in the country, he should have to follow Indian rules.”

Seven people, including the Karmapa’s aide Rubgi Chosang, also known as Shakti Lama, are in police custody.

Chosang belonged to Zanskar in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Karmapa’s office has said the money was from donations from followers the world over, including scores who come from Tibet and carry Chinese currency.

“With regard to the foreign currency seized from the monastery as per the requirement of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the Karmapa Office of Administration created the Saraswati Charitable Trust and first applied for FCRA status on Oct 13, 2003, but did not receive permission to deposit foreign currencies,” the official spokesperson for the Karmapa’s office, Deki Chungyalpa, told IANS.

“It thus created another trust, Karmae Garchen Trust on July 5, 2006, whose application for FCRA permission to deposit foreign currency was submitted Nov 16, 2010 (after the requisite wait of three years before a trust can apply for FCRA status) and is still pending.

“With little understanding of the legal procedures, and no legitimate means of depositing or exchanging this foreign currency, the money was left to pile up over time, waiting the day when it could be legitimately deposited,” Chungyalpa said.

The Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived at the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala.

Filed under: Religion

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