MLA from Sangha constituency in Sikkim, Sonam Lama, on Thursday claimed that the union Home Ministry has given the nod to Karmapa Ogyen Trinlay Dorje’s visit to Sikkim.

“The Cabinet Committee on Security (headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi) has given the approval, and this is great news for Sikkim. However, I have learnt that the Centre has restricted his visit to Rumtek monastery. Apart from Rumtek, he can visit any part of Sikkim,” Mr Lama said, adding that the Karmapa should be in the state either in the last week of April or the first week of May.

The Opposition party, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), also welcomed the decision of the central government. “The credit goes to Sangha MLA Sonam Lama and the monks, who are in a relay hunger strike for the past 630 days here in the capital, (demanding the Karmapa’s visit to the Himalayan state), the party said in a press release.

Devotees of the Karmapa had seen a ray of hope in having their long-pending demand come true after Chief Minister Pawan Chamling recently said he had written to the Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, urging her to allow the Karmapa to visit any monastery in Sikkim, except for Rumtek.

“I have written a letter to Smt Sushma Swaraj, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs, Government of India, seeking her assistance and cooperation in permitting the 17th Karmapa, His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit any monastery in Sikkim, if not Rumtek monastery, to bless our people. This would fulfill the long-pending demand of the people and the government of Sikkim,” Mr Chamling had recently written on his Facebook page.

There are a certain section of devotees who believes in steps taken by the state government and is waiting for the arrival of the Karmapa, while there is a group, Denzong Lhadey, which is on a relay hunger strike in Gangtok, demanding that the Karmapa be allowed to visit Sikkim.

They have also served memorandums to the central government, the Chief Minister and the Governor. The 17th Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, has been surrounded with controversies.

Ever since the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje died in 1981, two candidates have staked claim as the head–Ogyen Trinlay Dorje, and Trinley Thaye Dorje.

Both the claimants have been enthroned as the 17th Karmapa and both have been independently performing the duties as the Karmapa. Control of the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, which was the seat of the 16th Karmapa in exile, is a subject of legal contest.