The bullet monk of Kathmandu: Lharkyal Lama, a Buddhist lawmaker who broke many rules

Lharkyal Lama
Lharkyal Lama, monk of many passports and many names, being taken into 5-day remand yesterday. Photo: The Kathmandu Post

Lharkyal Lama, a supposed follower of Lord Buddha’s teachings of peace and material detachment but who ironically represented the former-extremist Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in the Nepalese parliament, was arrested yesterday for the possession of not few but fourteen bullets and sharpnel.

The drama unfolded when the country’s anti-graft body, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, escorted him to his locker number 1C/411 at Nepal Investment Bank in the heart of the capital city. The search took place as part of an ongoing corruption investigation against him. The investigating officers found out that the bullets were tucked away, of all things in the world, in religious scarves called ‘khada’.

Blood-thirsty little pieces of metals wrapped in symbols of peace!

Mr Lama has automatically been stood down as the sitting member of the parliament. Needless to say, he has already denied the bullets belonged to him, adding he is being framed.

The arrest of the political monk shows the rot which is eating away the very fabric of politics in the Himalayan nation and it is wrong on many levels. How many levels would you think?

First, the most ludicrous side to the story, Mr Lama is a ‘lama’ the dictionary meaning of which is “an honorific title applied to a spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism”. In other words, he is a preacher of peace. Last year, this dictionary meaning was further reinforced by himself when he said all Nepalese people “are Buddhists because all Nepalis want peace”. A question naturally arises, why would he then hide 14 live bullets and sharpnel in his bank locker? To destroy the enemies of peace?

Second, he was linked to Nepali Congress during his initial political career, historic reports suggest. He later changed his political colour to represent the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) in the First Constituent Assembly. Finally, he was sworn in as the lawmaker representing the Maoist party in February 2015. So he had left behind two political parties to join the third before he hit his 51st birthday. Ever since, the noun ‘opportunist’ has remained a fixture to his name. Question Two: Did he end up joining the Maoist party because he had secret penchant for guns?

Third, Maoist chairperson Prachanda drew heavy criticism from his party colleagues including his trusted deputy Narayan Kaji Shrestha for the nomination of Mr Lama as a Maoist lawmaker. A simple scan of media reports from around the time makes it amply clear that the entire nation regarded the controversial figure not fit for the esteemed office of a lawmaker. People knew he was not a monk in the truest sense of the term, that he instead was a highly materialistic and ambitious and cunning man looking for political leverage and power. But as it always happens in Nepal, the public outcry meant nothing and he eventually did take oath of office as a Maoist lawmaker. What sort of Buddhist monk would join a political party that has taken part in a bloodbath that led to the loss of 16,000 plus people?

These are three basic questions that must be answered by the monk-turned power-player. The Nepalese people, on their part, must not forget that it is dubious characters that are the reasons why politics in the country remains where it was two revolutions earlier.

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