#Fake Bhutanese refugee scam

Defendants' Debate: Rayamajhi's lawyers criticize Bhutanese refugee leader Rijal

Published On: June 10, 2023 05:00 PM NPT By: Arun Bum

KATHMANDU, June 10: Lawyers representing former Deputy Prime Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi have criticized Bhutanese refugee leader Teknath Rijal. During the ongoing hearing at the Kathmandu District Court on Friday, Rayamajhi's lawyers made critical remarks about Rijal.

Both Rayamajhi and Rijal are accused in the fake Bhutanese refugee case, and a case is ongoing against them in the district court of Kathmandu. During the debate on Friday, Rayamajhi's lawyers made derogatory comments about Rijal's mental state.

Former Attorney General Ramesh Badal, arguing on behalf of Rayamajhi, alleged that Rijal had "mind control" over someone else. "In order to clarify the statement made about someone else's mind control, could you please explain the acknowledgment made by Rijal in his own book?" Badal asked.  In response, he stated, "Regarding the matter of his mind being under someone else's control, he himself admitted it in his book."

Badal referred to Rijal's book titled "Torture, killing me softly," written in 2009, to establish the subject matter. He argued, "Since his book mentions mind control, does it mean that the government is currently controlling his mind?" Therefore, the esteemed bench cannot accept the statement as an accusation. Badal requested that the bench pay attention to Rijal's book, which addresses the subject of 'mind control' by the Bhutanese government while he was in jail in Bhutan.

Another senior advocate, Sushil Panta, raised questions about Rijal's memory and mental state. "We highly respect Teknath Rijal's struggle and advocacy for human rights. However, it is essential for the council to consider his current thinking, memory power, and mental capacity," he said. "In the past, he himself acknowledged the concept of mind control in his book." During the recent statement, senior advocate Panta argued that it seemed someone else was controlling Rijal's mind by implanting "chips." "When we listen to him, it appears as if he is functioning at 100 percent 'departure' like an unconscious person. Whatever he says, he is simply echoing it," Pant stated.

The reason why Rayamajhi's lawyers are attacking refugee leader Rijal in this manner is due to Rijal's statement in the district court. Rijal stated that Rayamajhi was involved in the case from the beginning. The bench takes the statements made in the courtroom seriously. In court, refugee leader Rijal mentioned that initially, Sanu Bhandari and Keshav Dulal had sent a Bhutanese refugee as an American sponsor and sought support to send them to the United States.

Rijal stated that they then brought him to Kathmandu and took Top Bahadur Rayamajhi to meet the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Furthermore, Rijal's statement mentioned that he, along with Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Sanu Bhandari, and Keshav Dalal, went to Dahal's residence.

During the court proceedings, Dahal said, "I am very busy today, please talk to Top Bahadur Rayamajhi." Rijal's statement mentioned, "As far as I know, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Sanu Bhandari, and Keshav Prasad Dulal are the main planners of this."

Refugee leader Rijal has been consistent in his statements since the beginning. He has repeated almost the same thing in his statements to the investigating police, attorney general, and the District Court in Kathmandu. On the other hand, most of the other accused have given different statements to the police and attorney general.

The gang members Keshav Dulal and Sanu Bhandari, referred to as the "key figures" in the police statement, along with Tek Narayan Pandey, a suspended secretary of the Nepal government, have provided a "denial statement" in court.

"The state sought to frame me for publicity"

Rayamajhi's lawyers claimed that the case against their client was conducted as a 'media trial' and a 'publicity stunt' without evidence. Senior advocate Panta asserted that it was a proven fact that when no one had initially filed a complaint against Rayamajhi, an arrest warrant was issued to "capture the co-accused," and he was arrested before the complaint was filed.

"The arrest warrant was issued against him on May 3, 2023. He was arrested on May 14. Then, on May 15, the state publicly announced the arrest of an individual named Prem Raj Panthi," said senior advocate Panta. "After the arrest, no statement was taken, and no evidence was found to pursue the case. Only after that, the public announcement was made." Panta stated that Teknath Rijal had filed a complaint against Panthi in the Gaushala police sector. He questioned how the same person could be accused of fraud and be the whistleblower, suggesting that the police forced Rijal to file a complaint. Former Attorney General Badal added that there had been a complete lack of integrity on the part of the state while prosecuting the case against Rayamajhi.

During Friday's proceedings, ten lawyers presented a defense argument on behalf of Rayamajhi. The debaters included Badal, Panta, Parshuram Koirala, Dharmaraj Regmi, Akriti Rayamajhi, Karun Bahadur Malik, Sudigya Panta, Somdevi Paudel, Pushparaj Paudel, and Dnyaneshwar Parajuli. Rayamajhi is the most prominent person charged in this case.


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