On January 28th Indian police raided the monastery of 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje and seized a large amount of cash. At that time, many damning and accusatory articles about the Karmapa appeared in the Indian media (that he is a Chinese spy etc.) Of the subsequent vast onslaught of information and commentary that then came our way, two things seemed immediately clear: The money was donated to the Karmapa from his many supporters throughout the world and the Indian media was acting irresponsibly.
Two weeks ago, when the New York Times published a piece on the situation, I posted a blog praising the Times’ level headed approach and stated that I felt it was a time “to wait for more facts to surface before jumping to any conclusions.”
It has now been almost a month since the raid and the Indian government has given the Karmapa a “clean chit” (freed from any question of guilt).
via Shobhan Saxena on the Times of India blog,
In the age of 24×7 TV channels facts are not sacrosanct and the only things that matter are screaming headlines, half-baked theories and silly opinions. The Karmapa affair is a good example of this malaise. Now the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has given a clean chit to the Karmapa Lama in the case involving seizure of foreign currency from ‘his’ monastery. But HP chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has refused to comment on the clean chit to the Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, from the Central agencies which looked into the alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act by the Tibetan leader.
However, while speaking to some Tibetan reporters at Dharamsala on Thursday, Dhumal sang a diiferent tune. “Karmapa’s name in any way is not involved in any land related cases. Neither there are any cases against some particular monastery person,” said Dhumal. This is the same chief minister who has been going hammer and tongs at the Karmapa and the Dalai Lama and the entire Tibetan community in exile, making all kinds of wild allegations. To push his case, Dhumal even went to the extent of asking the Centre to reimburse the “entire amount of money spent by the Himachal government on the security of the Dalai Lama and Karmapa Lama”. Now, it seems he has lost faith in his police but he won’t admit it because the lies about the Karmapa have been repeated too many times.
Since lies spread faster than truth, these bizarre allegations against the Karmapa appeared in the media as the gospel truth. Stories coming from unnamed, anonymous sources were played on prime-time TV and splashed across the newspapers, leaving no doubt in some minds that the Karmapa was upto some mischief. First they blew smoke in the air and then began looking for the fire. With the state government and media hunting in pair, the Karmapa had no chance to prove his innocence. The Tibetan spiritual guru had already been declared guilty by suspicion. The entire Tibetan community in India had been put under the scanner.
Read the complete piece here. Shobhan Saxena goes on to address the specific allegations that Chinese currency was found at the monastery, that the Karmapa’s monastery is illegal, that he was sent to India by China, that he owns huge properties, and that he doesn’t speak against China.
Image 1: Karmapa and Shobhan Saxena
Image 2: Karmapa supporters in Dharamsala