Govt warns not to make 'controversial' statements over gold smuggling case

Published On: June 5, 2018 07:52 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 5: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has warned all the stakeholders concerned to refrain from making any controversial statement over the ongoing investigation into the 33-kg gold smuggling case.

The warning from the ministry comes a day after a section of retired police officials rallied around undercover cops indicted in the high-profile gold smuggling case saying that the officers were discharging their duties as per order received from the higher authorities.  The ministry said the statement over the sub judice case was 'irresponsible and baseless'. 

“Such irresponsible and baseless statements will only boost the morale of criminals and affect the ongoing investigation,” MoHA Spokesperson Ramkrishna Subedi said in the statement. Stating that the investigation into the gold scam was not targeted against any individual or official and was in accordance with law, the ministry expressed its commitment to take the case to a logical conclusion. 

On Sunday, three former Nepal Police officials — Ramesh Kharel, Hemanta Malla and Rajendra Singh Bhandari — questioned the government's investigation process. Even as the gold smuggling case has already landed at the Morang District Court, a probe panel led by Joint-secretary Ishwori Poudel is still investigating it.   A group of police officers including SSP Dibesh Lohani, who led a covert operation to arrest Chudamani Uprety alias Gore, the main suspect behind the high profile gold smuggling case, are undergoing a trial for their alleged role in gold smuggling and aiding in the murder of Sanam Shakya, a gold trader who also worked as an aide of Gore. 

The racket had smuggled nearly 3,800 kg gold since July 2015, according to the finding of a panel led by Joint Secretary Poudel. 

Lohani has said that he accepted the offer as it was the only way to nab Gore. In his statement, Lohani has further stated that he accepted the offer after seeking permission from acting IGP Bom Bahadur Bhandari, a claim confirmed by the latter in his statement. That the police headquarters had sanctioned the undercover operation was also revealed in a leaked audio conversation purportedly between Lohani and AIG Bhandari.    But in a charge sheet, the District Attorney Office, Sunsari, has accused the undercover officers of facilitating the smuggling of gold and aiding in Shakya's murder for monetary returns.  The plaintiff has also questioned whether the undercover officers were acting in good faith.

The former officials said that they were forced to come forward in support of the undercover officers due to the sustained silence of the Nepal Police headquarters. 

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