Himachal Pradesh police and central agencies have tightened security around where Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, resides at McLeodganj – Headquarter of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), near Dharamshala.
The move comes after the arrest of asuspected Chinese spy Charlie Peng in Delhi last week. A Chinese woman, Lan Hoo, and another person, identified as Sonu Bangtoo, were detained by Himachal Police for their alleged links with Charlie Peng.
The Dalai Lama is one of the highly protected figures in India enjoying three-tier security.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said since it has come to notice of the police that the Chinese spy arrested in Delhi was running a hawala racket, and he had transferred some money to these two persons. He said the state government is looking into the matter.
“Two persons, who are now detained by the state police, were regularly tracking the movements of the Dalai Lama and passing the information to Charlie Peng. They purportedly have got money in lieu of it. In view of this, the security of the Dalai Lama has been strengthened. We can’t make any compromise on the Tibetan spiritual leader's security at any cost,” said CM Jai Ram Thakur.
The state’s Director General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, held a detailed meeting with top police officers, including Additional DG ( Law and order) and Additional Director General (state Intelligence). Kundu directed theSuperintendent of Police, Kangra, Vimukt Ranjan to increase the vigil in and around the Dalai Lama’s residence.
“The interrogation of two persons detained by the police will definitely give us an exact, deeper insight as to how this entire racket was operating, and its pan-India connections. Thereafter we will have a comprehensive review of Dalai Lama’s security, “ Kundu said.
The Initial investigation, however, revealed that the detained duo's motive was to keep an eye on the movement of Dalai Lama, and to communicate the same to the suspected Chinese spy in Delhi.
The Chinese woman, who is reported to have also travelled to foreign countries several times, was living in Kangra district for quite some time.
"We are looking into twin angles -- both intelligence and hawala links of the detained persons. The police have detected transactions worth Rs 51 lakh and Rs 87 lakh, respectively, from the bank accounts of Lan Hoo and Soman. The money was disbursed to their local contacts. We also have traced their handlers and a compamy, S.K. Traders, through which they were getting the money," Kundu told Outlook.
This is, however, not the first time when Chinese spies have been found active to keep an eye on the movements of the Dalai Lama.
In 2012, eight suspected Chinese spies were arrested from an under-construction bungalow at Chauntra in Mandi district along with Rs 30 lakh cash and several SIMs and ATM cards of foreign banks.
In 1997, a triple murder case at the Buddhist School of Dialectics, close to the Dalai Lama’s residence in McLeod Ganj, had sent shock waves in the entire Tibetan community. The victims included founder and principal of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, 70-year-old Lobsang Gyatso, two of his students, Lobsang Ngawang, 25, and Ngawang Latto, 23.
Also, during 2016, police raids at Gyanto Tantrik monastery led to the recovery of huge cash worth Rs 6 crores.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dalai Lama had cancelled all his movements and engagements, including public audiences.
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