Gangtok, Sept. 26: Thousands of followers of Orgyen Trinley Dorji, a claimant to the post of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, congregated here today, demanding that the Centre allow him to take over his throne at the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim.
People from all corners of the state started pouring in to Gangtok about 9am in taxis, private vehicles and buses to gather at the Guards Ground. Among them were about 3,000 monks from all 65 registered monasteries in the state.
Around 11am, the followers, led by the monks, began their 1.5km trek to Paljor Stadium that took almost 90 minutes. The rallyists, carrying placards highlighting their demands, chanted mantras and sang traditional songs. According to police estimates, the crowd at the stadium was around 25,000.
The reverence for the Karmapa was evident among the rallyists when photographers and onlookers were cleared from a flyover near the STNM Hospital by the police as the followers refused to allow a vehicle carrying a huge portrait of the Karmapa to pass beneath their feet.
In a memorandum to chief minister Pawan Chamling, the organisers — the Karmapa Reception Committee and the Joint Action Committee — urged him to lead a delegation to New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister to pressure the Centre into allowing the Karmapa to come to Rumtek 2011.
Joint Action Committee general secretary Karma Sonam Topden said Chamling had promised to instruct the two MPs from the state to raise the issue in Parliament. “He had been raising the issue in Delhi and told the central leaders that 99 per cent of Sikkimese wanted the Karmapa in Rumtek,” said Topden.
K.N. Topden, the spokesperson for the reception committee, said the Karmapa was allowed to visit nearby Mirik, but not allowed in Sikkim. “We are approaching the Centre with folded hands to allow him to sit in his rightful throne, as endorsed by the Dalai Lama. Many poor people cannot go all the way to Dharamsala and seek his blessings there.”