The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Japanese pilgrims robbed

Oct. 27: Three Japanese Buddhist pilgrims on their way back from Bodh Gaya to Calcutta have been roughed up and looted of valuables worth $25,000 by a gang of robbers in Jharkhand.

This is the third time in two months that visitors have come under attack in Jharkhand. In August, an Indian-born American was raped in Ghatshila, and in the middle of this month, eight trekkers from Calcutta were detained on the suspicion that they were extremists.

The hold-up occurred on GT Road near Bagodar in Giridih, 70 km from Ranchi, on Saturday night. The pilgrims included two monks and a woman. They have been identified as Eishiama (55), Hakko (76) and Tshyama (65).

Giridih police superintendent Deepak Verma said the monks were going to Calcutta from Bodh Gaya in Bihar in a Tata Sumo provided by Indian Airlines on their request as a scheduled flight could not land in Gaya due to inclement weather.

The pilgrims were returning after attending a ceremony at Rajgir near Bodh Gaya, deputy inspector-general B.B. Pradhan told PTI in Hazaribagh.

When the Sumo reached Atka village in Giridih, the road was found to be blocked. As soon as the driver got down to remove the blockade, nearly a dozen people pounced on the group.

The pilgrims were thrashed before their bags, which contained passports, camera, travel documents and air tickets from Calcutta to Bangkok and Bangkok to Australia, were snatched.

Pradhan said the three continued their journey without informing police who got to know of the incident only when officials in Calcutta got in touch with Hazaribagh and Giridih police.

The Japanese pilgrims lodged a complaint with their embassy through authorities of the Calcutta airport yesterday. The three are scheduled to leave Calcutta for Bangkok on Wednesday.

“We are investigating the matter and hope to trace the culprits soon,” said Verma.

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