Tuesday, January 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Govt weighs options on Karmapa
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 10 — The Indian Government continues to weigh all options to find a way out of the dilemma which it has been facing since the sudden arrival of the Karmapa Lama, Orgyen Trinley Dorjee, from China last week.

While a spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs today reiterated the Saturday’s statement that “we are inquiring into the circumstances attendant upon the sudden arrival of the Lama in India as also into the consequences of it”, the government is trying to evolve a suitable strategy to deal with the problem.

The spokesman said the government had not received any formal request for political asylum from the Karmapa Lama. “No formal request has been received”, he said commenting on reports from Dharamsala that the Tibetan Temporal head, Dalai Lama, had approached the Indian Government for granting asylum to the 14-year-old monk.

To another question whether the Chinese Government has approached India over the defection of the 17th Karmapa the spokesman said that he was not aware of any such contact.

On the one hand, the government is hesitant to give asylum to the third highest spiritual head of the Mahayan Buddhists as it may have an adverse impact on ties with China, on the other hand a refusal to grant asylum to Karmapa Lama is likely to create an internal problem as there is a sizeable following of Kargyi sect of Tibetan Buddhists in Sikkim and other states.

The Sikkim political leadership has been asking the Centre for many years now that the 17th “living Buddha”, Karmapa, should be allowed to come to India.

Not only this, India’s tradition of granting asylum to people on humanitarian grounds has been very old and as such there is going to be considerable pressure on the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to grant political asylum to Karmapa Lama from the BJP hardliners, including the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Meanwhile, the government has stepped up security for the Lama as the state police said in Dharamsala that there was “serious threat” to his life. The Lama has been shifted to an undisclosed destination.

However, according to sources, the government does not have many options as it cannot afford to ask the Lama to go out of the country as it would lead to problems internally.

Meanwhile, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Affairs, Ms Juia Taft, who is also the US Special Coordinator for Tibet, met the Foreign Secretary, Mr Lalit Mansingh and held talks with the Ministry of External Affairs officials.

While the official spokesman said Ms Taft held discussions on the refugees and population problems along with the assistance programmes that her department had been extending to refugees, the sources maintained that the two sides did take up the Karmapa issue.



Tight security for Karmapa

MCLEODGANJ (Dharamsala), Jan 10 (PTI) — The police today said there was “serious threat to the life” of Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, the third highest Tibetan religious leader who recently defected from China, and beefed up his security cover.

“There is a serious threat to his life, so we are taking all possible measures to deal with it,” Superintendent of Police, Dharamsala, K C Shadyal told PTI.

Without elaborating, Mr Shadyal said the 14-year-old monk, an heir to the seat of Karmapa, Head of Karygi sect of Tibetan Buddhists, faced threats from “different quarters”.

“We are identifying the source of threats and taking measures to deal with them to protect the boy monk,” he said.

The senior police official said that the security cover for the Karmapa had been extended to include, besides his Tibetan security guards, men of state police and other agencies. “As a protective measure we have moved him and his entourage to a new place” which he did not disclose.

Asked whether any arrests had been made, he said “I do not want to disclose anything in that regard”.

On the government’s move to probe the circumstances under which Karmapa arrived in India, Mr Shadyal said “My job is to provide security. I am not concerned with the probe”.

Dorjee, accompanied by his sister and five other companions yesterday left the Chonar Guest House, where he had been staying.

Monks at the guest house and administrators of the Dalai Lama are tight-lipped over the new place where the teenaged Buddhist leader was being kept.

Some of the residents were saying that the Karmapa was resting inside a monastery here to recover from the eight-day arduous journey from Tibet.

The Karmapa met the Dalai Lama twice since his arrival here on Wednesday last.


May get asylum: Tibetans
Tribune News Service

DHARAMSALA, Jan 10 — The Tibetan Government-in-exile, today clearly stated that it had no intention of getting political mileage out of the presence of the Karmapa here and that it would be guided only by his wishes.

Talking to mediapersons here today the Minister for Religion and Culture, Mr Tashi Wangdi, said that the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinely Dorjee, was a mature and decisive religious guru, who was quite aware of the consequences of his fleeing from the Chinese-occupied Tibet, “We were ourselves taken by surprise on his arrival and we are extending all hospitality and respect that is due to such a revered religious head,” he said. He added that despite being 14 years of age, the 17th Karmapa had special qualities and could decide what was good or bad for him.

Mr Wangdi said that the Tibetan Government had no intention of exploiting the issue of its advantage and its only concern was that the Karmapa is able to practice his religion freely and continue his studies.

Commenting on the crucial issue of grant of political asylum to the Karmapa, he said he was confident that India being guided by humanitarian concern, would allow the young boy to live here. “We are hopeful that India having a tradition of being generous will grant him political asylum, as it has been home to over one lakh Tibetans since the occupation of Tibet by China,” he added.

While admitting that by granting political asylum to the Karmapa, there might be some immediate consequences on the Indo-China relation, he observed that at this stage the Indian Government should be guided by the larger issue of humanitarian concern and not the immediate fallout of the decision. He added that he was pretty confident that this decision would not have any adverse effect on Indo-China relations. When asked what would be the stance of the Tibetan Government if India refuse to grant asylum to the Karmapa, he said that if this happen they would decide about it later.

Mr Wangdi revealed that unconfirmed sources had told the Tibetan Government that the monastery in Tibet from where the Karmapa fled, had been sealed by the public security people and the monks there were being interrogated thoroughly.

He added that if this information turned out to be true then it was very unfortunate and the Chinese Government should realise that repression could only aggravate the situation.

When asked about the controversy regarding the real Karmapa the minister said that there should be no confusion in this regard, as the Karmapa selected by the Dalai Lama, was the legitimate one and the Tibetan people in general have faith in him.

“It was after studying all evidence that the Dalai Lama chose, Trinley Dorjee as the 17th Karmapa and the selection was in no way politically motivated,” he commented. He also made it clear that there was no need to attach so much importance to the ritual objects like the black hat and the musical instruments, as this was not the only proof of one being the real Karmapa.

On the proposed visit of the US Secretary, of Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance, Ms Julia Tuft, to McLeodganj today Mr Wangdi said that this was a mere co-incidence and it had nothing to do with the sudden arrival of the Karmapa. He said that her visit was planned much earlier as the US Congress has sanctioned money as humanitarian assistance.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating situation in Tibet Mr Wangdi said that the Chinese leadership should view the entire matter in a larger perspective, as repression did not lead to any solution. He said that the Dalai Lama had already given up the demand for complete independence and the doors for a dialogue were always open from the Tibetan side, “You cannot check demonstrations and fleeing of people as these are symptoms of a much larger problem,” he opined.

Meanwhile, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyne Trinley Dorjee, remained at the Gyutso Tantrick Monastery, where he was shifted from McLeodganj, last morning. There was tight security at the monastery in the Sidhbari area, about 6 km from here. There has been talk of his being shifted to a monastery near Baijnath, but till the matter of political asylum remaining unresolved the Tibetan Government has adopted a policy of wait and watch. Back


Rimpoche group trying to ‘divide’ Buddhists

GANGTOK, Jan 10 (PTI) — A joint action committee of the All-Sikkim Buddhist Organisation has charged the Shamar Rimpoche group of the Rumtek Monastery with trying to divide Buddhists by making “misleading” remarks about 17th Karmapa Lama Urgyen Trinley Dorjee who had fled Tibet and reached Dharamsala on January 8.

“By seeking to create division in the Tibetan community in particular and the Buddhists in general,” Shamar Rimpoche was serving China’s interest, a press statement by the committee said here last night referring to the recent anti-Urgyen statements made by him in Delhi recently.

“He (Shamar) has been misleading the Press and the public on the issue,” the committee said referring to his statement that Urgyen’s “flight to freedom” was stage-managed in league with China since he was a Chinese, and was aimed at claiming the ‘black crown’ of the Karma Kagyu School, which was with an Indian Thaye Thinley Dorjee, another claimant to the top seat.

The committee termed as “mockery” of Buddhist religious tradition, Shamar’s reported statement that anyone possessing the black crown can be recognised as the Karmapa.

“If by just possessing a black hat (crown), one could become the Karmapa then we could all be candidates for that,” the committee, an umbrella of 32 Sikkim Buddhist organisations said.


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