Karmapa land ownership transferred to Himachal government

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DHARAMSALA - The Himachal Pradesh government Tuesday transferred the ownership of the palatial residence of Tibetan religious leader Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to its name, but officials ruled out the possibility of taking physical possession of the property.

A team of revenue officials comprising sub-district officer Naresh Sharma completed the formalities to transfer to the state the mutation of the land on which the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery was built before 2000.

Sharma told IANS that now the monastery land is owned by the government.

“Earlier, the title of the land was registered in the fake name of Dile Ram and Prem Singh,” he said, adding that “the ownership process was completed with the consent of the Karmapa-backed Karmae Garchen Trust”.

Kangra Deputy Commissioner R.S. Gupta said it was a routine revenue exercise.

“The exercise to vest properties by the government declared by the Tibetan government-in-exile has been on since 2006. The Karmapa monastery is also one of them. It is a routine revenue formality.”

Revenue officials said so far mutation of more than 40 properties in and around Dharamsala owned by the government-in-exile has been transferred in the name of the state.

Gupta, however, said “vesting the ownership doesn’t mean immediate taking control of the property by the government”.

Officials in the revenue department said the government started vesting properties after the government-in-exile provided a list of 73 properties owned by it, seeking their regularisation. As part of exercise, the government has started taking mutation of properties in its name after verification of revenue records.

“After vesting the ownership, the government will further lease out the properties to the Tibetan administration on its request by charging 10 per cent of the property value as lease money,” said the officials.

Gupta said the process for transferring the properties on a long-term lease to the government-in-exile would start only after all the properties were vested by the government.

Interestingly, the Gyuto monastery was built before 2000 by the Tibetan administration but on revenue papers it was shown that its land was purchased in November 2002.

Under Himachal Pradesh land laws, only the state’s permanent residents can buy land in the state. Others who want to purchase land for non-agricultural purposes have to seek relaxations under Section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act from the state government.

The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, came into limelight following the recovery of nearly Rs.70 million worth of foreign and Indian currency from his monastery last month.

The raids on the monastery were conducted after police arrested two people at Mehatpur in Una district of Himachal Pradesh Jan 25 and recovered unaccounted Rs.1 crore from them.

During interrogation, they claimed that the seized money was a payment made by the Karmapa’s trust to buy land near Dharamsala.

Police believe that the seized money was meant for some “illegal” land deal with the involvement of Karmapa’s aide Rubgi Chosang, also known as Shakti Lama, who is in police custody along with eight others.

Denying all allegations, the Karmapa has told the investigating agencies that the money seized during the raids on his monastery was given by his devotees and he was not managing the financial affairs.

The Karmapa fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived in the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala - the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

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