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Himachal to drop charges against Karmapa

Himachal Pradesh,Religion,Immigration/Law/Rights, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

Shimla, April 24 (IANS) In a major relief for Tibetan religious head and the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the Himachal Pradesh government Tuesday decided to drop a criminal case related to the seizure of Indian and foreign currency worth Rs.70 million from his monastery.


The Karmapa had been charged under Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) related to conspiracy. Nine others were booked under various sections of the IPC.


"After taking the opinion of the home and law departments, it has been decided under Section 321 (withdrawal of prosecution) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to drop his name from the chargesheet," a senior official of the home department told IANS.


He said the government had directed Una's District Magistrate K.R. Bharti to plead the case in this regard through the district attorney in the local trial court.


The chief judicial magistrate of Una had asked the Karmapa and the nine others to be personally present in court March 6 but he did not appear as he was out of the state.


Tuesday's decision was hailed by the Karmapa's office. "From the very beginning, we expressed faith in the Indian legal system. We were confident that the truth would prevail," Gonpo Tsering, administrative secretary to the Karmapa, said.


The 26-year-old Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism. He joined the Dalai Lama in exile in 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived at the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala.


The Karmapa's office had moved an application with Bharti to drop the case, stating that he was not directly involved in the currency row.


Bharti had sent his request with the comments of the district attorney on the case to the home department for consideration.


A government official associated with the case said the government in its report opined that "the Karmapa is an esteemed religious leader of the Tibetans with a vast following and charging him with conspiracy could hurt the religious sentiments of the people".


He said the law department had observed that the charges against the Karmapa "are very weak and there is no material evidence to corroborate them". He said now the court would take a call on the issue. "Either the court would grant its consent for withdrawing of the case or continue with the trial."


The Karmapa's name was included in the charge sheet filed by police Dec 7, 2011. He was the 10th accused. Police had Jan 28 last year recovered the currencies of 26 countries, including 120,197 Chinese yuan and around Rs.5.3 million in Indian currency, from the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery located on the outskirts of Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.


It was after the seizure of Rs.1 crore meant for land purchase that police conducted searches at the monastery and recovered the currency.


Subsequently, seven people were arrested. Among them was the Karmapa's aide Rubgi Chosang, also known as Shakti Lama. All seven are now out on bail.


The Karmapa's office told investigating agencies that the money was collected in donations from followers the world over, including scores who come from Tibet and carry Chinese currency.


The Karmapa had already got a clean chit from the central government in the seized currency, which is now in the possession of Enforcement Directorate (ED).


A delegation from the Karmapa establishment had met senior home ministry officials, including then Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, in February last year in New Delhi, and they seemed quite convinced that the Karmapa had no role in dealing with financial affairs, sources close to the Karmapa said.


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