A day after making claims on the arrest of eight persons suspected to be Chinese spies, Mandi police on Wednesday maintained that nothing could be said about the credentials of the accused for now, adding that their passports and tourist visas were valid.
Initially, those arrested were dubbed Chinese spies, but on Wednesday police officials were maintaining that they were not too sure about the suspects.
Meanwhile, the accused were produced before Jogindernagar judicial magistrate JL Azad who sent them in three-day police remand.
About a month ago, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama had expressed fears of a Chinese plot to kill him.
Acting on a tip-off from Intelligence Bureau, a police team comprising high-ranked police officials raided an under-construction house at Chauntra area under Jogindernagar sub- division of Mandi district on late Tuesday evening and arrested the eight "Taiwanese" on charge of illegal stay.
Police had also seized about Rs 35 lakh and 3,000 US dollars from the accused, apart from mobile phones and five SIM cards of Indian telecom operators.
Mandi ASP RS Jamwal told Hindustan Times the Taiwanese had been staying illegally for quite some time now, some arriving in India as early as April. "They are believed to be from Taiwan and the passports seized from them are of Republic of China," said Jamwal.
Jamwal said the accused were booked under Section 14 of Foreigners Act as they did not get themselves registered at the local registration office as per the law.
Besides, they were also booked under Sections 379 (theft) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of Indian Penal Code IPC), Essential Commodities Act, Excise Act and Income Tax Act.
The accused had tourist visas but were illegally working as carpenters and painters in the house.
The under-construction house that has 20 lavish rooms with over 15-foot-high boundary wall belonged to a Sikkim resident Gankar Rinpoche, who had settled here to set up a university.
Meanwhile, secretary for department of security, central tibetan administration (CTA) Ngodup Dorjee refused to connect the arrest of the Taiwanese to a threat to the Dalai Lama's security.
"As per our information, they are not Chinese but Taiwanese and were assisting in the construction of a house. They must be followers of the monastery and we don't want to relate their presence with the security threat to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama," said Dorjee.
"They had not registered with foreign registration office, that is the information we have received," he added.