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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Himachal police seeks NIA help to unravel Bhatkal's plan

Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times  Shimla, September 17, 2013
First Published: 20:29 IST(17/9/2013) | Last Updated: 20:31 IST(17/9/2013)

Alarmed by revelations of Indian Mujahedeen founder Yasin Bhatkal, the Himachal Police has written to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) seeking details of interrogation records regarding suspected threat to Tibetan spiritual leaders Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhist settlements.

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The state police move came following reports that Dharamsala, the exile home of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, was on the radar of Bhatkal.

The intelligence agencies suspected that Indian Mujahedeen group’s operations head Yasin Bhatkal had planned to recce Dharamsala after serial blast that rocked Buddhist pilgrim’s site in Gaya in July this year. There are reports that Bhatkal had sent two of his close aides to Dharamsala for recce as it was the potential target of the Indian Mujahedeen to take revenge against Buddhists for committing atrocities on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

“There are varied and unconfirmed reports about Bhatkal’s plan to visit Dharamsala. We have written to NIA seeking more details about Bhatkal’s plans,” deputy inspector general of police, intelligence and security, Abhishekh Trivedi told the Hindustan Times.

“So far, we don’t have any specific input about Bhatkal’s plans to visit Dharamsala,” he added.

It was in July last week after the blasts in Bodh Gaya that the NIA had alerted the Himachal Pradesh police about possible attacks on Buddhist population and monasteries across the state by the Islamic militant group Indian Mujahedeen. The NIA’s alert at that time came following the revelations made by Indian Mujahedeen operative Obedu Rehman, who was nabbed by security agencies in Hubli, Karnataka.

The NIA had advised the state government to take appropriate measures to safeguard the Buddhist population in Himachal against possible terror strikes.

In the wake of NIA alert, the crime investigation department of the state police sent an alert to all district police chiefs and directed them to step up vigil in Buddhist-populated areas in their respective districts.

There are nearly 30,000 Tibetan Buddhists who live in 12 different settlements scattered across the state. The main Tibetan settlements include Bir Dege Division (1966), Bir Dege; Bir Nangchen; Bir Chauntra; Bir Tibetan Society, Dharamsala; Gapa Tibetan Society, Kumrao; Kham Khatok, Sataun; Palrabling, Kullu-Manali; Paonta Choelsum; Phuntsokling; Sakya Tibetan Society, Puruwala; Tashijong  Birh; Tashiling Tibetan Camp, Pandoh; Tibetan Bonpo Foundation, Dolanji; Yangchen Gatselling, Shimla.

Main monastery Tsughlakakhang temple, which is located just outside the Dalai Lama’s mansion in Dharamsala, is highly guarded. Gyoto Tantric monastery, situated 7 km downhill Dharamsala, is the abode of the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who heads the powerful Kagyu Karma sect.

Sherabling Palpung is another monastery in Bhattu where high-ranking monk – Tai Situpa Rinpoche - resides.

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