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Saturday, 3 February, 2001, 15:21 GMT
Karmapa Lama to stay in India
Karmapa Lama
The Karmapa Lama has been living in a monastry
By Satish Jacob in Delhi

India has granted refugee status to the 17th Karmapa, one of the most senior religious figures in Tibet, who fled to India more than a year ago from the Chinese-backed government there.

Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama welcomed India's decicion
The teenage Karmapa has been living in a monastery near the hill town of Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama's headquarters in north India.

He ranks third behind the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

The Dalai Lama's Minister for Religion and Culture has expressed pleasure at the decision, and said it would also be appreciated by the Tibetan people.

Mr Tashi Wangdi said that the Dalai Lama was also pleased and that such a decision had been expected ever since the Karmapa first arrived in India.

India's caution

According to Mr Wangdi, the Karmapa will continue living in a small village near Dharamsala for the moment.

He said there were no plans to move him to the traditional seat of the Kagyu sect at the Rumtek monastery in the eastern Indian state of Sikkim.

The Karmapa is the only Lama of his prominence to have been recognised both by the Dalai Lama and China.

His flight across the Himalayas last year was seen by exiled Tibetans as both an embarrassment for China and a potential new irritant in relations between Delhi and Beijing.

India has been treading very carefully over the issue.

Officially it has been saying that it has been waiting for China to provide more information about the circumstances in which he left Tibet, but the Dalai Lama's officials had been confidently expecting a decision to give him a refugee status.

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See also:

09 Mar 00 | South Asia
China woos exiled Karmapa Lama
14 Jan 00 | South Asia
India and China discuss Karmapa Lama
11 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
China warns India over Lama
10 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Diplomatic jitters over Lama's visit
08 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who is the Karmapa Lama?
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