DOLPA, Jan 6: Police have arrested three individuals suspected of involvement in stealing religious idols from various ancient Buddhist monasteries in Dolpa district.
They were arrested recently from Boudha in Kathmandu after lengthy investigations. The three are being taken to Dolpa for further investigations.
Those arrested include Jyampa Lama of Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality-2. The identities of the other two have not been made public. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Avdesh Bista of District Police Office Dolpa said investigations are ongoing and they cannot comment further at the moment. “Dozens of ancient idols at Buddhist monasteries in upper Dolpa have been stolen and we believe the locals are involved. This has made the investigations more difficult,” he said.
Dozens of monasteries in upper Dolpa including Shey Gumba, Re Gumba, Mikhim Monastry, Gankar Gumba and Bon Gumba have been reporting the theft of dozens of idols every year.
Police are still nowhere close to finding the culprits who stole seven sets of 600-year-old idols from Choloing Monastry in Rigmo village of Shey Phoksundo Rural Municipality. Likewise, Rahap Monastry in ward 4 of the rural municipality has reported that its 42 ancient idols have been stolen.
Only four sets of idols stolen from upper Dolpa have been recovered in the last three years. Police are also unable to track down ancient religious texts stolen from the monasteries.
Locals said the minimal presence of security due to the difficult topography of the area has posed a serious risk to the monasteries.
They said armed smugglers are able to roam freely.