12th century religious idol of Buddhist saint stolen by Tibetan man recovered in Arunachal Pradesh

12th century religious idol of Buddhist saint stolen by Tibetan man recovered in Arunachal Pradesh

Itanagar,June6:The 900-year-old idol Terton Pema Lingpa that was stolen from Twanag Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, has been recovered by the Crime Brach of Delhi Police. The 12th century religious idol of Buddhism was allegedly stolen by a Tibetan man and his live-in partner from the Tawang monastery on May 31.

They were arrested for stealing the idol worth crores of rupees in the international market. The theft of this highly revered idol had created unrest in the Tawang district and people came out in the open to protest.

It may be noted that the  Terton Pema Lingpa was inseparable from Guru Padmasambhava throughout his rebirths and represented guru’s enlightened activity. In Nyingma tradition of  Vajrayana Buddhism, Pema Lingpa is the most important figure next to Guru Rinpoche. He is often referred to as “Ugyen Padmey Gyaltshab” meaning the representative of Guru Rinpoche.

Madhur Verma, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) said, “The accused Ngawang Tsundue (29) and his live-in partner Lobsang Sahalun took to stealing the religious idol to further sell it in the grey market of Majnu ka Tilla in Delhi as well as to defame the father-in-law of Tsundue. Since father-in-law of Ngawang Tsundue, a head Lama takes care of the idol, with its theft, Tsundue intended to take revenge on his ex-wife and her father.”

Police further said that there was social unrest in Arunachal Pradesh fue to the theft of the idol and based on a tip-off, the sleuths of Crime Branch arrested the couple.

Police said that the idol, worth several crores of rupees, was stolen from the house of Head Cheepa (Head Lama) in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh on the intervening night of May 31 and June.

On June 4, the Inter-State Cell of the Crime branch of Delhi Police received information that the accused are trying to sell the 900-year-old idol in the grey market of Majnu Ka Tilla for Rs1.40 crore. From there the idol was supposed to be smuggled to Tibet, added the DCP.

“Based on the tip-off, the sleuths of Crime Branch worked in coordination with the Arunachal Pradesh Police and a team led by ACP (Crime) Sanjay Sehrawat laid a trap near the Majnu Ka Tilla Gurudwara around 8 am to nab the accused,” said the senior police official.

The accused — Ngawang Tsundue (29) and his live-in partner Lobsang Gakey Sherpa (26), were arrested from there when they arrived to meet a prospective buyer. Police recovered a golden-coloured idol from Tsundue’s bag and some religious clothes were recovered from Sherpa.

DCP further said, “During sustained interrogation, Tsundue revealed that he is a permanent resident of Tibet and came to India in 2009-2010. He has started living in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, where he met the daughter of Head Cheepa of Tawang. He was working in a medicine shop there. In 2011, he married her but the couple got a divorce last year. As he wanted to take revenge from Cheepa’s family and knew that if he stole the idol, it would serve a twin person – first of earning lot of money and secondly, it would tarnish Cheepa’s name.

Accordingly, Tsundue started planning the theft with his live-in partner. He knew that the idol was kept at Cheepa’s home and was only taken to the monastery for special occasions.

The accused was aware that Cheepa’s family has gone to attend a function in Kullu and used the opportunity to steal the statue from his home. There was an old woman present at the home when the burglary happened.

The senior police officer added that the theft of the religious idol had generated social and religious unrest in Tawang and that they have informed their counterparts in Arunachal Pradesh.