Nepal backtracks, allows entry of Tibetan leader’s body for last rites

Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times|July 29, 2014

Backtracking from its earlier stance, Nepal government on Tuesday allowed entry of a prominent Tibetan spiritual leader’s body for conducting his last rites.

Ending weeks of speculations, a cabinet meeting held at Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s residence agreed to allow the body of Shamar Rinpoche to be brought to Kathmandu.

“Considering the sentiments of Buddhist followers of the leader in Nepal, the government has decided to allow the last rites to be conducted in Kathmandu,” informed Koirala’s media coordinator Prakash Adhikari.

He added that the decision was taken after considering recommendations of a committee to look into the issue and it was made clear that the last rites could be performed only at the site designated by the government.

The body of the 61-year-old spiritual leader, the 14th Shamarpa of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, which is now in Thimphu, Bhutan is expected to be flown in by a chartered flight.

The spiritual leader, who holds a Bhutanese passport, had expressed his desire to be brought to Nepal and his last rites performed at the Shar Minub monastery in Kathmandu, which he had founded.

Following his death in Germany in June due to a heart attack, the leader’s body was brought to New Delhi and later taken to Kalimpong in West Bengal. From there it was shifted to Thimphu.

Nepal’s embassy in New Delhi had earlier granted permission for the body to be taken to Kathmandu for last rites. But the permission was withdrawn later by the home ministry.

It was stated that since Nepal’s doesn’t have any rule of allowing entry to bodies of foreigners, it couldn’t grant permission for the body of the Bhutanese national to be brought into the country.

There were also fears the last rites could be used by Tibetan refugees in Nepal to start protests against China. Nepal follows a One China policy and doesn’t allow protests against its northern neighbour.

News reports in Kathmandu had stated the decision to allow the body into Nepal was withdrawn under pressure from the Chinese embassy. The Nepal government denied the reports.

It was only after Prime Minister Sushil Koirala reached home from US after completing his medical treatment, the decision was changed. Pressure from Buddhists within Nepal also worked.

Shamar Rinpoche was born in 1952 in Derge, Tibet. He used to head the Shar Minub monastery in Kathmandu.


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