Indian Tourist from Maharashtra Detained in Bhutan for 'Desecrating' Holy Buddhist Chorten
An Indian tourist has been detained by police in Bhutan for allegedly desecrating a holy spot in Dochula.
The accused, identified as Abhijit Ratan Hajare from Maharashtra, had been travelling across the Bhutanese countryside with a 15-bike convoy. The team was led by a Bhutanese national, local news outlet The Bhutanese reported. the incident took place this week when the convoy was resting in the vicinity of the Dochula Pass that connects Thimpu to Punakha.
Dochula boasts of 108 memorial chortens - stupa-like structures that are of importance to Buddhism and found across Tibet.
In photos that went viral on social media on Thursday, the tourist Hajare can be seen standing on top of a chorten in Dochula. The incident occurred without the knowledge of the team leader.
1/3 Breaking: The tourist in the biker outfit is Abhijit Ratan Hajare from the Indian state of Maharashtra. In the second picture the man sitting on the ladder is a Bhutanese citizen and carpenter, Jambay, who was doing repair works on the Chortens pic.twitter.com/Mq3vn2VKSI— The Bhutanese (@thebhutanese) October 18, 2019
According to tweets by The Bhutanese, the biker-convoy had been resting at the spot when Hajare came across the chorten. A local Bhutanese man (initially mistaken for a tourist) was already sitting on top of the chorten. According to reports, the man was a carpenter who had been working on repairs on top of the chorten. Hajare asked the man if he he could also get on top and used the local's ladder to get there.
Images of Hajare in a celebratory pose on top of the chorten caused much outrage on social media.
DEAR MORONS: Stop Descerating Holy Places When You Visit the MountainsPlease help identify this idiot, who is standing on top of a HOLY CHORTENWe request tourists to b mindful of local holy placss, culture n traditions. If you cannot reapect our sentiments, please DON'T VISIT pic.twitter.com/gh0It6c9eO— The Darjeeling Chronicle (@TheDarjChron) October 17, 2019
Hooligans from India disrespecting dochula pass chorten in Bhutan 😡😣😞 When will we learn to respect other?? It’s a shame on us @PMOIndia @narendramodi Authorities please take action pic.twitter.com/dZSFryGYQW— Sreejith Nair (@Sreejit38928922) October 17, 2019
So the biker guy is an Indian tourist from Maharashtra Abhijit Ratan Hajare while the guy on the ladder is a local Bhutanese carpenter Jambay who was repairing the Stupa. Shameful and disappointing on both counts. https://t.co/MZSgllO3Wo— Tenzing Lamsang (@TenzingLamsang) October 18, 2019
Following outrage after images of the stunt went viral, the Bhutan Royal Police has detained Hazare and confiscated his passport. However, he was allowed to stay on in his hotel.
Hajare would be in for questioning into the matter on Friday. Authorities are also trying to identify the local man who helped Hajare and bring him in for questioning.