'Working' tourists held in HP

'Working' tourists held in HP

Intelligence agencies here and the Himachal Pradesh police are mystified over the case of eight Taiwanese who were arrested while working as painters and carpenters at a house under construction in a village in Himachal Pradesh.

Taiwanese nationals arrested by the police near Joginder Nagar in Mandi district on Wednesday. PTI

The eight men carried passports from the Republic of China (Taiwan) with valid tourist visas and the police seized Rs 30 lakh cash, $3,000 and Nepalese rupees from them. If they had so much money and were tourists, what were they doing in a remote village working on a palatial house under construction is a mystery police and intelligence agencies are trying to crack.

As of now, the charge against the eight men is overstaying on a tourist visa, but police are looking at other angles, particularly as Himachal Pradesh hosts Dalai Lama, who had recently expressed apprehension that the Chinese may be training women agents to poison him.

The eight men were arrested in Chauntra Village near Jogindernagar in Mandi district. The house owner, Gankar Rimpoche, who employed them, is missing. Intelligence agencies have been tracking Gankar as he is suspected to be close to Tai Sity Rinpoche, one of the two gurus of controversial Karmapa Oygen Trinley Dorge. It was alleged that Dorge was slush with funds and had reportedly acquired large tracks of land earmarked for Tibetan refugees. In Himachal Pradesh, only Tibetans or state residents are allowed to buy land.

The area has many Tibetan monasteries associated with Karmapa. India does not recognize Karmapa as spiritual guru.

Initially, there was confusion over the nationality of the arrested persons arrested as their passports had China inscribed on it. Later, it turned out that the travel documents had ‘Republic of China’ etched on it which is the other name for Taiwan.

Union Home minister P Chidambaram told reporters in Ahmedabad that it was too early to give an official version in the absence of an input from the state. “Himachal Pradesh will give us a report by this evening. We have to see where there is any other motive or whether they are innocent,” Chidambaram said.

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