KATHMANDU, Sept 20: On late Monday evening, Lal Mohammad, was killed in a shootout that took place in Gothatar of Kageshwori Manohara Municipality-8, Kathmandu.
Police have not officially said anything about why and how this murder took place. "Police are investigating the incident and nothing can be said about it yet," said SSP Dan Bahadur Karki, Deputy Spokesperson at Nepal Police Headquarters.
Mohammad, who was involved in garment business in Kathmandu, was shot dead in the head, chest and stomach by an unknown armed assailants. A CCTV video retrieved later clearly shows that two people on a motorcycle shot at him and fled the scene immediately.
Mohammad swerved around the vehicle to avoid the shots but could nto escape fatal injuries. He was initially taken to Shankarapur Hospital with bullet injuries and was subsequently rushed to the TU Teaching Hospital in Maharajganj, where the doctor declared him dead.
Mohammad, who was riding a motorcycle (Ba 6 Cha 5152), was shot at in front of his garment factory in Jambu Danda, Gothatar. Although police closed all the checkpoints in the evening, no one has been arrested till now.
An investigation has been carried out to determine whether the incident is linked to revenge of an old incident. Police officials are also investigating if he was involved in dealing counterfeit notes or suspicious uranium transactions. Investigation has been started also to look at the possibility of his involvement with an Indian criminal gang linked to terrorist networks that commands support of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), according to senior police officials.
“Based on the information that he had stepped up his activities against India, our investigation is focused on the possibility that he may have been attacked. We have also tried to connect him with his old incident. However, we cannot jump to any conclusion yet,” said a police officer involved in the investigation.
According to sources, it is also suspected that Mohammed sent the sample of uranium to the security team that came from India last July. "His business is not just one but it seems that he has done many types of businesses in the past.
He was doing different business in different places of Kathmandu, according to police officials. The intelligence wing of the Armed Police Force (APF) had also collected information about him.
While collecting information about the existence of terrorists in Nepal, the APF Intelligence Bureau had put him on the strict terrorist list and informed about him to Department. "Our team also investigated as Lal Mohammad was found involved in suspicious transactions after he was released from jail. The information has been shared with the Nepal Police," said a high-ranking army source.
Lal Mohammad is a permanent resident of Goudita Municipality-10 Manharwa in Sarlahi. He was involved in business for the past six years while he has a criminal past. On July 4, 2007, Balram Patuwa of Bara was shot dead in the evening at Anamnagar Dhobi Khola in Kathmandu. Out of the five accused, the police immediately arrested Lal Mohammad and Pappu Gupta called 'Thapaji'.
Based on his statements to police, the accused Iltaw Hussain Ansari alias Munna Khan was arrested two years later in 2009. Among them, Wahid Khan was arrested only after 10 years on October 16, 2018. Khan's family has been alleging that Lal Mohammad was involved in Khan's arrest.
After his arrest, his wife submitted his citizenship saying that Wahid Khan was Bijay Kumar Srivastava. But when police checked the legitimacy of the citizenship certificate from the Sarlahi district administration, it was confirmed that Khan had changed his identity by obtaining a fake citizenship, and he was subsequently sent to jail. He had been running a garment industry by changing his identity.
According to the police investigation, there was a dispute between Balram Patuwa who was killed and three people who were arrested later over fake Indian currency smuggling. Patuwa was killed in that dispute. "When Patuwa, who was active in the fake note business, started leaking information, there was a plan to kill him and replace him with Wahid," said a police officer, who was involved in the investigation at the time.
According to police, Wahid, Mohammad and other groups were allegedly involved in smuggling counterfeit Indian currency from Pakistan and Bangladesh and taking them to the Indian market. They were convicted by the court and sent to jail later.
Lal Mohammad spent nearly nine years in prison and was released on July 24, 2017 through a government amnesty. After the release, Lal Mohammad returned to the garment business. He was running a garment company called Avenger Enterprises. According to sources, Mohammad had a hand in the arrest of Wahid Khan, who was arrested after 10 years.
A contract killer in the past
According to police sources, Lal Mohammad was initially a contract killer. According to a report by the Indian Intelligence Agency Research and Analytical Bureau (RAW), Lal Mohammad played the role of a middleman in counterfeit currency transactions in Nepal. During that time, he was involved in the murder plan of a person named Iltaf Hussain Ansari. In some cases, Mohammad himself shot people. Sources claim that Iltaf Hussain Ansari had later told his friends that Balram Patuwa was shot by Lal Mohammad. Indian security officials were interested in this matter when they came to Nepal last July.
Iltaf Hussain Ansari, the person whom Mohammad worked as a middleman, was arrested on August 13, 2020 in the fake gold case. Ansari, who is considered to be the mastermind behind the counterfeit notes, was caught while he was traveling in a car carrying 15 kg of fake gold, but was able to escape police. He tried to take the gold to India, according to the investigating police officers at the time.
RAW had been looking for Lal Mohammad for a long time. "India had always been looking for him because of his association with 'international terrorist' Dawood Ibrahim and his alleged involvement in anti-India activities including counterfeit Indian notes. This was also because of his alleged link with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI),'' said an officer working in the Special Bureau of Nepal Police. But since the government has granted amnesty and no criminal activity has been found against him in Nepal, Nepal Police did not pay much attention to the matter.
"There is no basis to say that the officers of the Indian intelligence agency had suspicion. But there is room for doubt," said a police officer at the Special Bureau. According to sources, Lal Mohammad also had a good relationship with a Pakistani citizen Ejaz. The police are investigating people named Ejaz Sikandar, Tamach, Aslam and others in connection with this incident.
In 2063 BS, he was in contact with a person named Kumar Srivastava, who was involved in the business of counterfeit Indian rupees. Ansari was arrested after he returned from Bangladesh while going there twice with him.
Failure of police to provide him security
Mohammed appears to have been killed in a second attempt on Monday. He had informed local police saying that he was unsafe only a few days ago. Even if he is a criminal, this proves that there is a big weakness in the security system of the country as the police, who have the responsibility to take action or investigate according to the law, are not interested in the safety of citizens.
According to sources, Lal Mohammad had demanded security three days ago. He filed an application at the Jammu Danda Police Station in Gokarneswor on Saturday stating that his life was in danger.