The Dalai Lama was accused of being behind religious conflict in Gandain Monastery near Lhasa by local mayor Norbu Dunzhub on Tuesday who said it was "another attempt to sabotage the unity of Tibet".
Seventeen lamas burst into a chapel in Gandain Monastery on March 14 and tore down two clay statues of protective deities claiming they were "evil spirits" and began fighting with six worshippers at the scene.
The destruction of the statues was a criminal act and a violation of the Regulations of Religious Affairs, said Norbu, adding that local authorities had taken legal action against the perpetrators.
"It is by no means an isolated and accidental event," he said.
"At face value it is an internal affair within a monastery but on a fundamental level it was provoked by the Dalai clique whose purpose is to arouse conflict between different sects of Tibetan Buddism and thus sabotage the unity of Tibet," said the mayor.
The exiled Dalai Lama has on several occasions denounced one of the deities, Dorje Shugden, a god worshipped by a sect of Buddhists.
In the 1970s he warned his followers not to worship Shugden because it was detrimental to his spiritual health and to the cause of the Tibetan people.
In 1996 he imposed bans on the deity's worship at two Buddhist ceremonies. Early this year the Dalai Lama ordered his followers to pressure or verbally attack lamas of Gandain and Sera Monasteries whom he believed were still worshipping the deity against his orders.
"What the Dalai Lama has done violates the religious freedom of believers," said Zhang Qingli, acting secretary of the Tibet autonomous regional committee of the Communist Party of China.
Lamas in the Sera Monastery have defended the deity by saying it has existed and been worshipped for a long period in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The statue's destruction violated Buddhist teachings.
Conflict among different sects should be resolved peacefully and the incident at Gandain Monastery was shameful for Tibetan Buddhism, said a lama from the monastery. He declined to be named.
The incident showed the pro-independence policy of the Dalai clique had changed little, said Norbu.
(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2006)