Tag Archives: bhutan history

The Dalai Lama’s conspiracy against Jigme Singye Wangchuk

Jigme Singye Wangchuk
Below is an excerpt from the book Indo-Bhutan relations and China interventions
By Lal Babu Yadav, page 122:

Conspiracy Against Jigme Singye Wangchuk

Bhutan was again convulsed on June 1st, 1974 when an announcement on the part of its Government came to fail the sinister conspiracy against its 18 year old King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, whose formal coronation was to be celebrated on the very next day. In a secret meeting of the Bhutanese National Assembly the steps to be taken against the plotters, were discussed and it was decided to foil it with the help of Indian intelligence.

According to the official bulletin of the Bhutanese Government the conspirator’s plan envisaged assassination of the young King, burning down Tashichhodzong, which is the Royal Palace in Thimphu, arson in several places in the capital and installation in power of the son of Yanki, the lady who once enjoyed considerable influence in Bhutan. A thorough investigation with which with which Indian Intelligence was also connected resulted into the arrest of some 30 persons important among them being some higher Bhutanese officials.

During the investigation some of the facts apparently demonstrated that Tamshing Wangdi, commonly known as Tortola “a Bhutanese national, who spent 9 years in Tibet and was known for his pro-Chinese proclivities, was a key figure behind the plot”. The investigation also revealed that the kingpin of the plot was Gyalo Thendhup, brother of the Dalai Lama, who had been residing in Darjeeling since even before the Dalai Lama fled Tibet. The Bhutanese Government statement said that the assassination plan was hatched by a Darjeeling based organization of Tibetan refugees, who had been carefully watching Bhutanese affairs for the last several years. Tortola, revealed in his statement before the investigating committee that the final shape of the assassination plan was given by Kanaibhu, the father of Yanki, at Dharamsala with Thendhup and his associates, who assured Yanki and her children full support and promised to install her son on the Bhutanese throne. When the news of the arrest of the conspirator became known Yanki and her family immediately fled to India. The investigation, however, revealed widespread espionage activities related to the plot.

Now the matter became much more complicated as Yanki and her father, who was accused of conspiring the plan of assassination, came to India and took shelter. Secondly, one among the plotters was said to have closer links with Chinese authority in Tibet. Thirdly, the Dalai Lama, who had taken asylum in India was also indirectly involved in the conspiracy on account of his brother’s active participation as a conspirator against the Bhutanese King. The Bhutanese National Assembly demanded extradition of Thendhup. Yanki and all her relatives in India were brought in for questioning and possible trial in Bhutan. But the King maintained that extradition was a complicated matter and the issue would need to be thoroughly studied. The position of India, which became very complicated, was clarified by the statements that were issued by the Bhutanese authorities. In those statements, the King as well as the External and Home Ministries of the Bhutanese Government refused to accept that there was any hand of India in organizing the assassination plot. The Dalai Lama and Phinto Thonden both categorically denied any Tibetan involvement in the plot. They said that the Tibetans had only “a sense of gratitude and friendship towards the Bhutanese”. In a press conference, in New Delhi, the Dalai Lama and Thendhup said that a letter was addressed to the King of Bhutan explaining the complete innocence of the Tibetan refugees. They also hinted in the conference that some other forces had been trying to remove the King and the same forces wanted Tibetan refugees to be used as a scapegoat to cover their own activities.

The Indian Government permitted three representatives of the Dalai Lama to go to Bhutan in defense of the Tibetan refugees who were arrested in Bhutan for their notorious action of participation in the sinister plan to murder the King. The Bhutanese representative in India, Pema Wangchuk, reiterated on July 20th, the allegation that Thendhup was involved in the plot to kill the King with some of the subversive Tibetan refugees sheltered in Bhutan.

Inspite of the fact that it was more or less evident from the facts that the sinister plan of the King’s assassination was hatched by Yanki and Gyalo Thendhup, the King gave a royal pardon to them and both of them attended the coronation ceremony. With this royal pardon the palace intrigue in Bhutan came to an end.

See also: The Attempted Coup in Bhutan