Tshering Palden 

The board of the Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan (HSBD) has filed a first investigation report (FIR) with the Thimphu police station on December 19.

HDSB secretary also issued a suspension order against the chairperson yesterday.

Kuensel learnt that the chairperson is alleged to have changed his name through illegal means including forgery. He changed his name from Ram Chandra Bhandari to Swami Vivekananda Saraswati.

The chairperson said that the secretary acted without following the set procedure as per the Article of Association (AoA). There should be at least two thirds of the nine-member board which means at least six members should have been present at the meeting to meet the quorum.

“I don’t know on what basis the FIR was filed,” the chairperson said. “Moreover, this case was withdrawn and already compromised in the board meeting long ago.”

He said it looks like a personal attack by those who filed the FIR to police.  “The secretary doesn’t have the power.”

The chairperson also wrote to the HDSB secretary yesterday stating that the decision was illegal because the board meeting was not conducted and that the board have to withdraw its FIR filed with the police.

The letter was also copied to the Education Minister, Jai Bir Rai from Phuentsholing, Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma from Samtse, and Information and Communications Minister Karma D Wangdi from Gelephu.

However, this time the FIR was filed as per the directive of the Commission for Religious Organisations to the board. The commission conducted an investigation after a senior Hindu Pandit complained how the chairperson was given the honorific title of a swami.

The legitimate article of association of the HDSB does not have Swami (which translates in Dzongkha as Khenchen and is higher than Pandit) as one of the honorific titles for the members. However, the AoA on the HDSB’s website is different from the one endorsed by the commission and mentions ‘Swami’ as one of the honorific titles.

The executive director resigned when the Commission for Religious Organisations investigation into the case had just begun. Four more board members had submitted their resignation letters towards the end of October when the investigation was still underway.

It is learnt that the investigation uncovered elements of forgery in documents that supported his application to change his name.

A source told Kuensel that the board members met two times to decide on the directives issued by the commission. The members who tendered their resignations were also called to the meeting but they declined to attend citing numerous reasons.