The controversy over the “non return” to India of the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje has taken a new turn. In an address to the annual Tibetan prayer festival in Bodh Gaya that concluded earlier this week, the Karmapa in a webcast from his current residence in New York claimed he had been denied a visa by the Indian Consulate.
The visa was necessitated by the fact that since March last year, the Karmapa is the holder of a passport from the Commonwealth of Dominica, a document acquired obviously to facilitate his foreign travel.
In his webcast he said “As soon as I got the new passport, I went to the Indian embassy in New York to turn the Identity Certificate in. I went there and told them I needed to turn in the old travel document, and I further requested them to grant me a visa in my new passport. But the officials there said that they were not authorised to do so and needed to speak with the offices in Delhi about it. There was a lot of back and forth, which took a bit of time, and in the end, I could not get these things done.”
But sources have told SNI that a visa had never been refused to the Karmapa on his new passport. The sources said the New York consulate had informed the Karmapa’s sister on more than one occasion. The sources hinted that the Karmapa may have been misled by his own people.
SNI was able to access a timeline of the Karmapa’s interaction with the Indian authorities over the visa issue.
November 12, 2018: Karmapa’s sister Ngodup Palzom visited the Consulate General in New York. The Consul General personally assured her that the Karmapa’s request for a visa on his Dominica passport would be granted. He explained the modalities of filling up and submitting the visa application and advised her to submit the passport to the Consulate General.
November 26, 2018: At the request of Ngodup Palzom, the Consul General met her again and reiterated that a visa would be issued on the Karmapa’s new Dominica passport. But till date no visa application has been received nor has the Consulate General received the passport.
Sources told SNI that from the above it is clear that the Karmapa’s statement made in the webcast is not in accordance with facts. The sources reiterated that it is possible the Karmapa has been misinformed. As for the Identity Certificate, it is no longer valid since the Karmapa now holds a Dominica passport. The certificate can be surrendered to the issuing authority in India upon his return.
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