Delhi: Behind stolen idol, a marriage that ended in divorce, say police

The idol was supposed to be smuggled to Tibet.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:June 6, 2017 5:22 am
The idol, which was stolen from the house of the Head Lama.

Delhi Police have arrested two persons, including a woman, from Majnu Ka Tila for allegedly stealing a 12th Century idol of Terton Pema Lingpa, a highly revered Buddhist saint, from the house of the Head Lama in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district last week.

DCP (crime) Madhur Verma said the duo have been identified as Ngawang Tsundue (29) and his live-in partner, Lobsang Gakey Sherpa (26). “They wanted to take revenge from the Lama’s family after Tsundue’s marriage with his daughter ended in a divorce. On June 4, the Delhi Police Crime Branch received information that the accused were trying to sell the 900-year-old idol in the Majnu ka Tila grey market for Rs 1.4 crore. The idol was supposed to be smuggled to Tibet,” he said.

The accused in police custody.

Verma said they laid a trap near the Majnu Ka Tila gurdwara around 8 am after receiving inputs from Arunachal Pradesh Police. “The accused were apprehended as soon as they arrived to meet a prospective buyer. We have recovered the idol from Tsundue’s bag and some religious clothes from Sherpa,” he added.

Police said Tsundue, a permanent resident of Tibet, came to India in 2009-2010. He lived in Dharamshala, where he met the daughter of the Head Lama of Tawang. “They got married in 2011but got divorced last year. He knew that stealing the idol would earn him a huge amount and would also tarnish the Lama’s name. He planned the theft with Sherpa,” police said.

Verma said the accused knew that the idol was kept at the Lama’s home and was taken to the monastery only on special occasions. “The accused was aware that the Lama’s family had gone to attend a function in Kullu and used the opportunity to steal the statue from his home,” he added.

The DCP said they have informed their counterparts in Arunachal Pradesh of the arrests.

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