News and Views on Tibet

Spy who loves Karmapa aide

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By Tapas Chakraborty

Bodh Gaya, January 7 – Police here faced their first test today — ahead of the Kalchakra beginning on Thursday — when they spotted a “Chinese spy girl” in the crowd.

Kalchakra is a Buddhist function, presided over by the Dalai Lama, that is organised after an interval of some years.

For over 24 hours, the police shadowed the 25-year-old woman and then detained and grilled her on suspicion of being a “Chinese mole” in the security ring of the 17th Karmapa, who will attend the Kalchakra along with the Dalai Lama.

There has been much concern about the Karmapa’s security ever since he escaped to India from Chinese territory.

The police, however, were in for an anti-climax when Chen Yuan Hans said she was Taiwanese and desperate to be with her boyfriend.

Zigme Gyatso, her boyfriend, is a key aide to the Karmapa.

With 40,000 pilgrims from South Asian countries already here, the perception of threat to the Karmapa and the Dalai Lama is considered very real. Militants in nearby districts have added to the threat.

So the police had put the Karmapa’s aides under watch, too. When last afternoon, the special branch officers found Zigme missing from Mahayana Guest House, where the Karmapa has put up, they went into overdrive.

At 6 last evening, Zigme was traced to the Taiwan Temple complex, where the police found him with a “suspicious looking Chinese woman”.

The police reprimanded Zigme for spending time with the woman in her room at the temple guest house and took them to the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee office, converted into a temporary police control room. The couple was later taken to a hotel room where the two were interrogated.

To the embarrassment of the police, Chen showed her passport (No. X00897210) issued by Taiwan. “I have been a friend of Zigme for five years,” she said. “I have come to meet him. I was missing him a lot.”

Chen said she had visited Zigme a couple of times at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.

As news of the “spy” drama got around, senior district officers sealed their lips. Bodh Gaya superintendent of police Ravindran Shankaran simply said: “The security arrangement for the Karmapa and the Dalai Lama has been tightened. Both of them are safe.”

Sonam Dagpo, additional secretary, department of information and international relations, government of Tibet in exile, said the police were handling the Zigme affair. “It is their duty to make the security foolproof,” he said. A central intelligence officer of the level of inspector-general said the woman had come from New York via Kathmandu.

“We have all the information about the woman. The state intelligence caused the faux pas by overenthusiastically tracking her movement,” he said.

Bodh gaya has been put on a general high alert because of the VIPs present, he said.

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