Karmapa aides quizzed by ED

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Dharamsala/Shimla, Feb 1 (PTI) A high-level ED teamtoday questioned aides of Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje who aremanaging the trust backed by him about foreign currency worthover Rs 7.5 crore seized during raids.

Headed by Deputy Director (North) V Neerja, the EDteam reached the Gyuto Monastery at Sidhbari just before noonand had a marathon question-answer session lasting four hoursand 40 minutes.

The ED officials asked the managers of the trust andthe monastery about the sources of foreign currencies of 25countries including China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the UK,the US, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam recovered during theraids.

Sources said the ED team did not directly question theKarmapa but its members met him.

Neerja avoided the media and immediately went into thecar without answering any question. Asked whether she wassatisfied with replies to the questions posed to the manger ofthe trust, she simply said "yes" and left.

In New Delhi, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister P KDhumal said the state government has nothing to do with theissue as the Centre is investigating the matter.

Dhumal also asked the Centre to reimburse the expensesbeing incurred by the state government over the security ofthe Dalai Lama and the Karmapa.

Meanwhile, sources said the Gyuto Monastery wasalready under the scanner of ED and its agencies had beentracking the money received at the monastery.

A team of Himachal Police had questioned Karmapa onSunday but he said he was not aware about the foreign currencyand other documents seized from the monastery and shifted theonus on managers of the trust and monastery.

The team has also questioned the monastery officialsabout violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) asthey were not allowed to deposit foreign money in the banks.

On the other hand, Una police continued scrutiny ofthe documents seized during the raids and was trying to linkthese documents to foreign currencies, the source and thepurpose for which they were obtained.

The trust officials had all along maintained that thecurrency was offerings and donations from disciples of Karmapafrom across the world and there was nothing illegal.

Five persons have been arrested so far and are beingquestioned. They include Sanjay Dutt and Ashutosh, from whomcurrency worth Rs 1 crore was seized at Una border on January26; Shakti Lama, main administrator of the trust;Dharamsala-based hotelier K P Bharadwaj and manager of Ambalabranch of Corporation Bank Dhar.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan community has come out openlyin favour of Karmapa while local people have urged the policeand district administration to stop the Tibetans from holdingprotests rallies as they were creating tension between localsand Tibetans.

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