Beijing, May 10 (Reuters): Tibetan Buddhist monks loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama stormed a monastery near Lhasa and attacked statues of a deity denounced by him, Chinese state media reported in a rare glimpse of religious dissension in disputed Tibet.
Seventeen lamas entered the Ganden Monastery on March 14 and tore down two statues, including an image of Dorje Shugden, a deity criticised by the Dalai Lama since the 1970s, the Xinhua news agency reported today.
Police were mobilised to prevent crowds of Buddhists from going to the large monastery, government officials said in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, yesterday.
The dispute between the Dalai Lama and the much smaller Shugden stream of his Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism is part of complex doctrinal currents dating back four centuries.
But China’s authorities used the latest incident to criticise the Dalai Lama ' the most senior figure in Tibetan Buddhism who has been in exile since 1959 and campaigned for autonomy for Tibet. “What the Dalai Lama has done violates the religious freedom of believers,” Zhang Qingli, the acting Communist Party secretary of Tibet, said.