By Tenzin Monlam
The Delhi Police with the recovered 900-year-old statue and its attire, also seen are Ngawang Tsundue and Lobsang Gakey Sherpa, PHOTO- Hindustan Times
DHARAMSHALA, June 6: The Delhi police on Sunday have arrested a Tibetan man and a female accomplice from Majnu Ka Tilla for allegedly stealing 900-year-old idol of Terton Pema Lingpa, a Tibetan saint of the Nyingma tradition, from a monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, according to news reports.
The alleged thieves, Ngawang Tsundue (29) and Lobsang Gakey Sherpa (26), had planned to sell it for around INR 1.4 Crore, said the police who were tipped off by a devotee who was aware of the theft and posed as a prospective buyer.
A senior investigator was quoted by Hindustan Times
as saying, “The devotee was aware of the idol theft. So, when he learnt about it, he posed as a customer and played along with the sellers. Once he was sure that the idol was the one stolen in Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, he tipped off the state police.”
“Dressed in plain clothes, we waited at Majnu Ka Tilla to spot the suspects. As soon as the informer saw the couple, he pointed them out to us. We intercepted them and seized a bag from them in which the idol was hidden,” said Sanjay Sehrawat, ACP (Crime).
The police said the theft took place on May 31, and the idol was brought to Guwahati in a Tata Sumo car, and then the duo travelled to Delhi by train.
Ngawang Tsundue, the prime culprit, was also the former son-in-law of the Head Cheepa (Lama) of Sangyeling Gompa, a monastery in Tawang, and according to the police, it was an act of vengeance following his divorce in 2016.
“In order to take revenge with Head Cheepa's family, Tsundue decided to steal the idol for monetary gain and also to defame the head Cheepa,” said Madhur Verma, DCP (crime), after recovering the ancient idol.
Since Tsundue knew the house well from his time with the Cheepa’s family, he had convinced his current partner Sherpa to join him in the heist. “They were aware that the Cheepa and his family would be visiting Kullu in the last week of May for a festival, leaving only an elderly woman at the house,” said the DCP.
Tsundue came to India in 2009 and met with the daughter of Head Cheepa, which culminated into marriage that took place in 2011.