Bhutan detains Indian tourist for desecration

Thimphu, Oct. 18, 2019: 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 mid October when the convoy was resting in the vicinity of the Dochula Pass that connects Thimphu 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 October 17, the tourist Hajare was seen standing on top of a chorten in Dochula. The incident occurred without the knowledge of the team leader.

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.

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.

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