Karmapa did not formally ask for an Indian visa, say officials
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, a claimant to the position of 17th Karmapa Lama, has not completed the formal application process for an Indian visa and the government is not blocking his return to the country, people familiar with the developments said on Thursday.
Dorje, who fled from Tibet to India in January 2000, left the country in May 2017 and travelled to Europe and then the US using his Identity Certificate, a document issued by the Indian government to stateless citizens from the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. Since then, Dorje has cited various reasons for not returning to India.
The issue of his return took another twist on Tuesday, when a video message by Dorje posted on his YouTube channel suggested officials of the Indian consulate in New York had informed him they were not authorised to issue him a visa. Dorje indicated he had approached the consulate for a visa last year.
“What Dorje has said is not in accordance with the facts,” said a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
On November 12, 2018, India’s consul general in New York met Dorje’s authorised representative, his sister Ngodup Palzom.
He informed her the Indian government would issue Dorje an “appropriate visa” on his new passport from the Commonwealth of Dominica, this official added. The consul general explained the visa application procedure in detail, the official said. The consul general again met Palzom at her request on November 26, 2018, and reiterated a visa would be issued whenever Dorje applied, the official added.
“Since then, there has been no communication and we have not received the application or the passport,” the official said, adding that it appears that someone in Dorje’s inner circle was “misinforming” him or “misrepresenting the facts”.
The people cited in the first instance said that though an online visa application was initiated by Dorje on November 27, it wasn’t completed and no receipt was issued. “Don’t say that India is not giving you a visa,” the official said. A representative of the Tsurphu Labrang or Dorje’s office in New Delhi said Dorje was currently in retreat in Germany.
“The visa application process is yet to be completed and for this, he needs to be in the US to complete some documentation,” the representative said.
Dorje obtained a passport from the Commonwealth of Dominica, a former British crown colony in the West Indies, last year.
With this, his Identity Certificate became invalid. In the video featuring a voice-over in English, Dorje said he had gone to the Indian consulate in New York to turn in his Identity Certificate and to seek a visa.
The people cited above said Dorje hadn’t personally visited the consulate but sent his representative.