Gaurav Bisht and Naresh Kumar, Hindustan Times
Shimla/Dharamsala, January 24, 2013
Even as the Himachal government adopted a neutral stance on the cash haul from the monastery of 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, now questions are being raised over land owned by the Palpung Munishahan Dharma Chakra Trust, which is helmed by a close aide of Tai Situpa Pema Sonyo Nyingche, Dorje’s mentor. The land has been used for purposes other than permitted.
Since the law forbids non-Himachali to purchase land in state, the trust, headed by Ani Sewa Devi, had sought permission in 2001 to buy 38 acres at Battu village in Kangra’s Baijnath sub-division for an old age home, eye hospital and school. The secretary, revenue department, granted the permission vide a letter dated January 27, 2003, under section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act 1972. The letter, a copy of which is with HT, clearly mentioned that the land has to be used strictly for purposes mentioned while seeking permission.
But instead of a hospital and school, the trust raised a building that houses the International Buddhist Institute for religious studies. While the trust complied with the condition that the land has to be bought within 180 days of the permission, the government had also made it clear that the land should be used within two years from date of permission. And in case the land was used for purposes other than mentioned in the permission, it was to be taken over by the government.
When contacted, Lama Tsewang Dakpa, general Secretary of the Palpung Congregation in Battu village, admitted that work had progressed on a building for housing the international centre for Buddhist studies. Asked why the hospital and old age home had not been built, he said, “We do not have sufficient funds.”
Additional district magistrate of Kangra, DK Rattan said the administration was not aware about the violations. “We will have to probe the matter,” he told HT.
Who is Tai Situpa?
*The 12th Tai Situpa, Pema Donyo Nyingche Wangpo led the search part of religious scholars who discovered the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism
*Born in 1954 in a family of farmers in Tibet, Pema Donyo was recognised as the Tai Situpa by the 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje. At the age of six, Pema Donyo left Tibet for Bhutan, where King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk had been a disciple of the 11th Tai Situpa. Later he studied at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim
*In 1975, a disciple of the 12th Tai Situpa donated a chunk of land at Battu village in Kangra (HP), where he started the Palpung Sherabling that became his seat. The under-scanner 38-acre chunk in the same village was bought in 2003.