#Fake Bhutanese refugee scam

Foul play suspected after District Government Attorney’s Office instructs police to complete investigation by Tuesday

Published On: May 15, 2023 07:15 PM NPT By: Arun Bam

Suspicion that instruction is a part of conspiracy to protect high-profile people

KATHMANDU, May 15: After the District Government Attorney's Office, Kathmandu, instructed the police to complete the investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam by Tuesday, the suspicion that it is a game to protect more 'high profile' people has increased. The Government Attorney's Office has directed the District Police Office, Kathmandu, to complete the investigation and submit a report with opinion within four days with effect from Saturday.

According to the instructions, the four-day period will end on Tuesday (tomorrow). Achyut Mani Neupane, chief of the District Government Attorney's Office, says, "We have asked the police to complete the investigation by Tuesday and submit the report on Wednesday." Then the research phase ends. Even if the time is increased, it is only increased for prosecution.”

According to the Organized Crime Prevention Act, 2070 BS, the accused person can be detained and investigated for up to 60 days depending on the progress of the investigation. Based on this limitation, the Government Attorney's Office, Kathmandu has instructed to stop the police investigation after Tuesday. The period of police investigation in organized crime is 60 days. Within this time, the prosecution should be prepared and the case should be registered in the court," said Neupane. He also said that the police had been given 53 days to investigate and directed to submit the report on the 54th day. He said, "After that, we also need 6-7 days to study and prepare for prosecution." There is a legal obligation to file a case in the District Court, Kathmandu, along with prosecution on the 60th day.

Based on the complaints of the victims, the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office arrested three members of the gang, Keshav Dulal of Morang, Sanu Bhandari of Lalitpur and Tanka Gurung of Panchthar, who collected money by making fake Bhutanese refugees and sending them to America. Initially, the police started investigations against them for fraud, but after many names started to be linked in this case, they started investigating the case under organized crime. The limit of investigation and prosecution (60 days) is calculated based on March 26 when Dulal, Bhandari and Gurung were arrested.

The Government Attorney’s Office may have blocked the investigation to protect high-profile individuals. This is a very questionable instruction. Limitations like this can leave the investigation incomplete, according to senior advocate Bhimarjun Acharya.

According to sources, the police are not in a position to complete the investigation within the time limit set by the district attorney's office. “The network of this gang is big. Hundreds of people have been cheated. Many people are involved in this," says a police officer involved in the investigations. "In this way, a complete investigation is not possible in two-three days."

Advocate Acharya said that the public prosecutor’s office did not pay attention to the fact that the investigation of such a sensitive matter may be incomplete by setting time in this manner. He said, "It is very unfair."

Former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Nepal Police Hemanta Malla says that further investigation should be continued by filing a case based on the evidence found immediately in the case of major irregularities. If the file is closed and the investigation is completed as soon as it is found within the deadline, all the culprits may not be brought to justice. It seems that this is what will happen in this case," he said. "Therefore, if the police investigation is closed forever after 60 days, the guilty may get immunity." In this case, an audiotape of Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba's wife Arju Rana Deuba and former home minister and Nepali Congress leader Balkrishna Khand's wife Manju has been released. Bal Krishna Khand is currently in police custody. Arju, Deuba's wife, has lodged a complaint with the Cyber Bureau of Nepal Police demanding an investigation into the truth about the audiotape.

Similarly, the names of CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli's personal secretary Rajesh Bajracharya, former home secretary Maheshwar Neupane have also been mentioned in this case. Oli has alleged that Nepali Congress MP Ramhari Khatiwada and Dipesh, son of former Vice President Nanda Kishor Pun, are also involved in this case. The police have not gathered enough evidence about them either. So far, the statement recording of the arrested persons has not been completed. Former home minister Khand, who is in custody, has not made a statement. CPN-UML Secretary and MP Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, who was absconding, was arrested only on Sunday evening. Statements of 11 out of 13 arrested persons have been recorded.

Nepali Congress leader and former Constituent Assembly member Angtawa Sherpa; Pratik, son of UML Vice Chairman and former Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa; Niraj, son of Indrajit Rai, Thapa's security advisor when Thapa was Home Minister are among the 11 absconding accused in the fake refugee scam. Advocate Ananta Raj Luitel says that there is a provision allowing additional prosecution in investigating such cases. But since the high-profile persons are involved, it does not appear that there can be further investigation and prosecution in this case after the deadline. "Somewhere, it seems that the instructions of the public prosecutor’s office have been set to save the remaining people," he said. The police have taken permission from the court to keep the arrested persons, except Rayamajhi, in custody for four more days effective from Saturday.

Arrest warrant against Rayamajhi

UML secretary and MP Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, who was absconding, has been arrested. On the 12th day after an arrest warrant was issued by the District Court, Kathmandu, the police arrested Rayamajhi, who is also a former Deputy Prime Minister, from Budhanilkanth in Kathmandu on Sunday night. Rayamajhi was arrested from Narayan Paudel's residence in Pasikot. According to police sources, Paudel is a friend of Rayamajhi from Arghakhanchi.

Kamal Giri, press advisor to Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, informed Republica that Rayamajhi was arrested while hiding in Paudel's house in Budhanilkantha by the Special Bureau team deployed from the Nepal Police Headquarters. Based on the information that Rayamajhi had come to Kathmandu on Saturday, the police intensified the search.

After finding evidence that he was involved in the fake Bhutanese refugee scam, the police took permission from the Kathmandu District Court to arrest Rayamajhi on May 3. On the day when the arrest warrant was issued, Rayamajhi was at a public event in Arghakhanchi, home district, with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Devraj Ghimire. On the same day, Rayamajhi, who came from Arghakhanchi to Butwal with Speaker Ghimire, was scheduled to come to Kathmandu from Gautam Buddha Airport. But he did not come to Kathmandu. Fearing arrest at the airport, he canceled the ticket and absconded.

Initially, Rayamajhi had contacted the high officials of Nepal Police and promised to appear in Kathmandu. But instead of contacting the police, he absconded. The police head office had instructed all the 77 district police officers under it to arrest Rayamajhi. A special team of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police was also mobilized to search for Rayamajhi. According to sources at the home ministry, Rayamajhi came to Kathmandu only on Saturday. It is alleged that Rayamajhi was in making a 'political decision' along with the main planners of the gang, Keshav Dulal and Sanu Bhandari.


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