The local police claimed to have detained a man of Tibetan origin on suspicion of spying from Norbulingka near Dharamsala town.
The accused identified as Penpa Tsering, 32, of Tsora Village in Lahari County of Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) was detained on Wednesday evening.
The police action came following a complaint from the secretary, department of security of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Ngodup Dorjee.
“We had received a written complaint against him about his suspicious activities and detained him for interrogation,” said Kangra SP Balbir Thakur, adding that the formal arrest is yet to be made as the police wanted to interrogate the accused before producing him in the court.
The police have recovered an Indian voter-ID card and Aadhaar card from Tsering’s possession. The address of Tsering mentioned in the voter ID card is 20, Chandni Chowk, assembly segment, Delhi. The date of issue mentioned on voter ID card and Aadhar card is January 2011 and July 2011, respectively.
“We interrogated him about the documents, but he could not give a satisfactory answer,” Thakur said, adding that the police were verifying the validity of the documents recovered from his possession.
The police have also seized his two mobile phones and will examine the call details.
“We have informed the central intelligence agencies about him and a team of the intelligence bureau will be arriving in a day or two to interrogate him,” said Thakur.
Thakur said as per the CTA’s complaint, Tsering was a member of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China and has also served People’s Security Bureau before coming to India.
“In the initial interrogation, the accused has admitted that he had served PLA for three to four years,” he added.
According to information given by CTA, the suspect entered India in 2009 via Nepal and initially lived in the Tibetan rehabilitation centre at Dharamsala. He later stayed in Delhi and came back to Dharamsala a few months ago.
The Indian government issued him a registration certificate (RC) in October 2011, which is valid up to 2021. What has deepened the suspicion of police is the recovery of Indian voter card from his possession. Only Indian-born Tibetan refugees can apply for the Indian citizenship.
On possibility of his being a Chinese spy, the district police chief said it is premature to draw any conclusion as investigations are still on, but the possibility could not also be ruled out. “We have constituted a special team for thorough probe into the matter,” said Thakur.
It is second such incident when a former PLA member has been arrested in Dharamsala. Meanwhile, the police have booked Tsering under relevant sections of IPC, Foreigners’ Registration Act and Citizenship Act.
A Chinese woman, Kunchok Chamo, who claimed to be a nun, was arrested twice in 2004 and 2006 for not having valid documents and was deported back to China
Chinese national Ley Xiuan and former member of PAL from McLeodganj was arrested in 2008. He was in contact with high ranking Chinese military officials in Lhasa at the time of his arrest
Chinese woman Chai Sha Hung was arrested from McLeodganj in 2010 for staying without valid travel document and was deported back
Another Chinese national Li Chengzie was arrested from McLeodganj in 2012, who was staying at a monastery without valid papers