Spiritual guru Tulku Lama convicted of rape

Kathmandu, September 25

The Patan High Court convicted so- called Buddhist spiritual guru Rinpoche Chhulthim Dorje Yontan Yongaj Tulku Lama aka Tulku Lama of rape and slapped a jail term of seven years on him.

The court also ordered Lama to pay three million rupees as compensation to the victim described as CIB 224 in the charge sheet. This is the first time that the court had ordered the victim to pay such a huge amount of compensation to a rape victim.

The verdict was passed by a division bench of judges Tek Narayan Kunwar and Ramesh Bahadur Thapa.

Patan High Court struck down Kathmandu District Court’s 31 August 2018 verdict that acquitted   Tulku Lama of rape charges. The defendant, who is in his late 50s held the victim hostage for more than nine years at a monastery operated by him in Chalnakhel, Dakshinkali Municipality-10 and raped her repeatedly, the court observed. According to case files, the convict took the pictures of his sexual assault and threatened the victim of putting those pictures on facebook if she lodged complaint against him.

Given the sufferings faced by rape victims, no monetary compensation can adequately compensate the victims, the court added.  According to the charge sheet, Lama   used to molest and rape his followers, saying his divine powers could cure all kinds of illnesses. Lama, who originally hails from Kuesheshwor Dumja-9 of Sindhuli, had been operating the monastery for the past 10 years. The monastery housed several women and his followers came to him with various problems in the hope that ‘his divine powers’ could give them a respite.

Rejecting Lama’s claim that the victim was his wife, the court said Lama had already been married and despite his claim of marrying the victim, he did not have marriage certificate or anything that could establish marital relations between him and the victim.

“How can the defendant, who claims to be the reincarnation of Guru Rinpoche, tie the marital knot? The court cannot accept the argument that the victim who is 27 years junior to the defendant could not find her match and accepted the defendant as her husband,” the court observed. The court said as per new laws even husband cannot have sexual relations with his spouse without her consent.

The court said defendant committed rape as he coerced the victim to have physical relations with him, saying she was his wife in their past lives and she should remain his wife in this life also. “Whether somebody has physical relations with a woman without her consent for one time or for years, that is a crime of rape,” the court said, adding, “In a   rape case, the victim should be treated as a key witness and her statement should be considered direct and decisive evidence.”

The court has also quoted the conviction of Indian Gurus Asharam Bapu and Gurmit Ram Rahim. The court also mentioned one of the Dalai Lama’s speeches delivered in Netherlands recently where he said he had been aware for last 25 years that women were being sexually exploited by some Buddhist Gurus. The victim who started living in the monastery since May 2009 stayed there for almost 10 years.