| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI Dec 7 Indian police filed
charges on Wednesday against a Tibetan spiritual leader who fled
China a decade ago and is tipped to take on the mantle of the
Dalai Lama in the future, following the seizure of $1.4 million
from his monastery in India.
However, the charges filed by police in a district court
against 10 people including the Karmapa, who is revered by
Tibetan Buddhists as the 17th reincarnation of a 900-year old
spirit, related to a smaller amount of money.
This was seized from a car in January and was allegedly
destined for a land transaction.
"Today the charge sheet has been put in court," police
superintendent Sumedha Dwivedi told Reuters, adding that police
planned to file further charges related to seized foreign
currency. The court will decide whether to proceed to trial.
The 26-year-old Karmapa has fought off suggestions by
India's media that he is a Chinese spy since police found the
cash, including some Chinese yuan earlier this year.
His office denies wrongdoing and says the money comes from
the thousands of often wealthy followers who have visited the
Karmapa every year since he arrived in India.
The Karmapa is close to the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled
spiritual leader, and both men strongly deny accusations he
works for the Chinese. China has also rejected the accusations,
which frequently emerge in the Indian media.
After the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa is the most eminent Lama
to have fled Chinese rule of Tibet, which Communist forces
occupied from 1950. Despite his escape across the Himalayas in
2000, the Karmapa remains recognised by Beijing as the 17th
incarnation of his spiritual lineage.
He says he does not want a larger leadership role.
The Karmapa's lawyer Narender Pal Singh said he had not yet
received any formal notice or copy of the charge sheet.
Police accuse the Karmapa of criminal conspiracy. A district
court in the state of Himachal Pradesh where exiled Tibetans
including the Dalai Lama are based will decide whether the
charges have merit.
"As chairman of the trust he must have knowledge of
everything that is going on, that is why he has been included in
this," Dwivedi said.
The Karmapa's office has previously said he does not involve
himself in the financial affairs of his religious order.
The Indian government was aware of the cash, his office
says, but officials had not issued the correct paperwork to
exchange it for rupees.
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel and Abhishek Madhukar; editing
by David Stamp)