Rinpoche murder theory dismissed

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Kalimpong
  • Published 14.04.03
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Kalimpong, April 14: Sonam Dorjee, secretary of Rinpoche Zhabdrung Jigme Ngawang Namgyal, today debunked media reports that pointed at a conspiracy theory surrounding the monk’s death.

Dorjee also dismissed rumours that the Rinpoche had any involvement with Buddhist refugees in Nepal.

At a press conference called to clear the controversies, which had popped up on account reports that the Rinpoche’s death was caused by slow poisoning, Dorjee said: “The media got the wrong information regarding his death and his involvement with the Buddhist refugees in Nepal. He had been vomiting in the hospital but this was due to side effects of chemotherapy.”

“We were with the Rinpoche throughout. The district collector also made frequent visits so there cannot be any foul play involved in his death. It was due to cancer that he died,” Dorjee said.

Accusing the refugees, “who were there when the Rinpoche’s body was brought to Bagdogra on April 9, of spreading the rumour he said: “Some people at the airport saw the refugees when the body was brought at Bagdogra and they can be the ones who mislead the media as well as the public.”

The Rinpoche, believed to be the ninth reincarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, died on the midnight of April 5 in the Christian Medical College at Vellore.

Doctors in Siliguri who were first consulted about the Rinpoche’s condition had suggested that he be shifted to Vellore. Acting on the doctors’ instructions, he was taken to Vellore on November 28 last year.

All the misunderstanding, Dorjee said, stemmed from a report in A Nepali newspaper which wrongly quoted the spiritual leader.

Asked about Bhutanese refugees in Nepal the Rinpoche had said: “I would not like to comment them as I don’t know the reason why they were thrown out of Bhutan, but their condition is really pathetic. I have no reason to love them or hate them because I do not know them and have not spent any time with them.”

This, his secretary said, was proof enough that he did not have any connection with the refugees.

The Rinpoche had many followers from many places like Jammu Kashmir, Delhi, Manali and Bhutan where he was considered the religious and political head.

Born in Eastern Bhutan in Manla village under Tashi Yangtshe district he came to India when he was three years old and stayed in Arunachal Pradesh.

He then moved to Shillong where the then Assam governor Rustomji, to whom he was also the advisor, took care of him. The Indian government then took him to Himachal Pradesh. He came to Kalimpong early in 2000 where he was offered to head the Pedong monastery.

The Rinpoche’s body has been kept at the monastery, where it will remain for 49 more days.

“The decision as to whether the body of the Rinpoche will be cremated or preserved has not decided. There are more chances of his body being preserved,” said Dorjee. “The decision will be made only after 49 days after consulting the Gumba Association’s astrologers.”