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China whiff in Karmapa Leh succour
- Flood cash trail to Hong Kong

New Delhi, Jan. 29: Ugyen Trinley Dorje turned inclement weather in the Himalayas into an opportunity to further Chinese interests, officials said today as searches continued over the cash haul from the Dharamshala home of the Karmapa India doesn’t recognise.

Security sources said the 26-year-old, the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, spent huge sums of money since last year’s cloudburst in Leh and landslides and heavy rain in Himachal Pradesh to generate goodwill.

Delhi sees this as part of a plan to spread Chinese influence in the Indian Himalayan region much the same way as Beijing has done in districts along the India-Nepal border where the Chinese have opened 17 “China study centres”.

More than 150 people were killed in the August 6 cloudburst over Leh, as catastrophic rain sent rivers of water rushing down the mountains and bursting into villages in normally arid Ladakh.

Security officials said though Dorje wasn’t allowed to visit the affected areas, “his people” did and spent huge sums, the money channelled allegedly through Hong Kong where the spiritual leader’s followers are reportedly given “red carpet treatment”.

Dorje, however, is unlikely to be arrested, the sources added.

Beijing also wants Dorje — whose followers claim he is the 17th Karmapa and the successor to the Dalai Lama — to take control of the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, the principal seat of the Kagyu sect. But that has not happened so far because of the emergence of a rival claimant to Karmapa status.

“We will not allow him to be the Karmapa, and the current developments will reveal that he has been acting at China’s behest in India,” said a senior government official. “We have kept quiet for too long.”

India wants the rival, Thinley Thai Dorji, who is about the same age as Dorje, to take charge of the Sikkim monastery, which has more than 700 overseas branches and is influential both in the Indian Himalayan region and Tibet.

Since his headline-making “escape” from Tibet to India in January 2000, which Delhi suspects Beijing had stage-managed, the government has never trusted Dorje and has, in recent years, severely curbed his movements.

Although the Dalai Lama recognises Dorje as the Karmapa, New Delhi would like to see it as the septuagenarian spiritual leader’s wish to keep a door open for negotiations with Beijing.

Recognition of Dorje as the Karmapa is one of the rare points of agreement between China and the “Dalai clique”.

An official in the Dalai Lama’s office today confirmed that the spiritual leader recognised Dorje as the Karmapa.

Government sources said Dorje had been getting “too big for his boots” and voiced fears about the increasing pressure he is said to have exercised over some Indian politicians.

The sources said the home ministry had, for the past four months, been getting alerts about pressure being mounted from different quarters for letting Dorje take the seat at the Rumtek monastery.

They said a senior Himachal politician wrote to the government requesting that Dorje be allowed to visit Sikkim.

The sources said the government was worried about Dorje’s “rising” influence in Sikkim, Himachal and Ladakh.

The Tibetan leader was last night questioned about the unexplained cash seized from his home while police continued searches in Dharamshala today.

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