No doubt on Karmapa’s commitment to Tibetan struggle: top MHA official

Rahul Tripathi | The Indian Express | September 10, 2018

INDICATING THAT New Delhi is willing to accept the leadership of the 33-year-old Karmapa Lama Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the adviser on Tibetan affairs in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Amitabh Mathur, told The Indian Express, “India doesn’t doubt 17th Karmapa’s commitment to Tibetan civilisation struggle and he is the future face of Tibetan Buddhism.”

Mathur was appointed as an interlocutor on Tibet affairs, a major stumbling block for India-China relations, three years ago. He will complete his tenure on September 21.

New Delhi for long suspected the Karmapa — recognised by Beijing and most adherents of the Kagyu sect — to be a “Chinese agent”. It is now trying to portray him as the most credible face of Tibetan struggle in India, after the Dalai Lama.

The change in India’s stand is seen as an attempt to please China, which in the past had refrained its senior leaders and government functionaries to attend ‘Thank You India’ events.

Endorsing the Karmapa, Mathur said, “We have hardly seen any evidence of Tibetans indulging in violence but we (India) will never allow our land to spoil relationship with any country.”

The young Karmapa, who has been in the US for the past one year for medical treatment, has a cramped accommodation in Dharamshala where he was housed under intense security for 18 years since he fled Tibet in December 1999.

Mathur, the former head of Aviation Research Centre and an IPS officer from 1977 batch, downplayed the close monitoring of Karamapa when he was in India.

“The 17th Karamapa faces threat and has been assigned security. It is for this reason that the security agencies need to know his itinerary in advance. He does not need any prior permission but a prior intimation to the MHA to plan security details is required,” Mathur said.

“We have no doubts about his commitment to the Tibetan civilisation struggle, his loyalty to his holiness the Dalai Lama and his attachment to India. If anyone feels that the old situation (of snooping) may arrive again, we are trying to dispel that notion. There are no restrictions on his travel. Apart from the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa is the only Buddhist leader who had met elected representatives of the government.”

The Karmapa had escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14. He reached the Tibetan exile quarters at McLeodganj on January 5, 2000. That year, a central government order passed by the Cabinet Committee on Security put restrictions on the Karmapa’s travel to certain areas without prior permission of the government. These included the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim and areas of strategic importance such as Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh.

Mathur said the government at that time had put the Karmapa under watch because of some “suspicion” but that phase is “over”.

In 2015, the Narendra Modi government, in an attempt to engage with the Karmapa, decided to review the order on the travel restrictions. The travel restrictions, except to Rumtek monastery, were then eased.

In 2016, the home ministry directed the Delhi Development Authority to allot 5 acres of land to the Karmapa to set up his trust in Dwarka. However, ministry officials said, the Karmapa is yet to accept this offer.

Mathur, who met the Karmapa in New York, also underlined that he is the natural leader of Tibetan struggle. “He has attended the condolence meeting of those who immolated themselves in India for the Tibetan cause.”

When asked about the delay in the Karmapa’s return to India, Mathur said, “He has been continuously in touch with the Indian government. There is no event or meeting here to be attended. He will come as and when required.”

Officials said the Karmapa is expected to return in November to attend a religious meeting.

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