High-profile gamblers in hospitals 'to avoid police custody'

Published On: November 11, 2019 07:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 11: At least eleven of twenty-five gamblers caught red-handed in one of the biggest gambling busts last month and are in judicial custody have been admitted to various hospitals in Kathmandu due to reported health complications. An official with knowledge on the matter said that seven are at Dumbharahi-based HAMS hospital and four are in Chiraayu Hospital. The remaining 14 are being held at the Maharajgunj Police Circle.

Those admitted at HAMS include Sohail Karki, Galje Lama, Pawan Gupta, Shrawan Kumar Goyal, Indra Bahadur Shrestha, Ram Chandra and Ranjan Rajbanshi.

Those at Chirayu Hospital include Shambhu Budhathoki, Hom Prasad Chaulagain, Dawa Lama and Bikram Gautam.

The official said that they were taken to the hospital following health-related complaints. Many of them appeared 'fine' while being taken to the hospital, added the official.

“The doctors decided to admit them following medical examinations,” said an official.

DSP Umesh Lamsal, the in-charge of Maharajgunj Police Circle that arrested the gamblers, however claimed that the gamblers have not been admitted to hospitals, but only intermittently taken to the hospital for checkups.

Following their arrest last month, the high-profile gamblers have always found a reason or two to remain in the spotlight. They were arrested with a whopping Rs 26,700,000—the largest sum ever seized from a gambling den. In a desperate bid to avoid arrest, they first tried to threaten officials taking advantage of their powerful friends at Singha Durbar, and even tried to entice officers with offers of bribe.

For affluent and powerful people facing criminal charges, hospital beds are becoming a more convenient refuge.

While many take refuge in hospitals to avoid cold and often decrepit prison cells, some others do it on purpose to weaken the case.

In a possible obstruction of justice, doctors at Norvic Hospital had even denied investigators permission to collect blood specimen for DNA test of former House of Representative Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara who is under trial for attempted rape. Mahara had remained in Norvic for weeks before being transferred to Dilibazaar prison.

Police officials said while most of the prisoners are taken to hospitals for genuine medical concerns, it also allowed enough room for a good law to be misused. The prisoners and those under temporary detention, like everybody else, are entitled to basic human rights including healthcare, pregnancy and right to reproduction.

DSP Hobindra Bogati, spokesperson at the Metropolitan Police Range, Teku, said that it was within the legal rights of any individual to seek medical care.

“It could be that not everyone has health problems. But there is little we can do when the doctor admits the patients. It is the doctors and the hospitals that should be held accountable,” said Bogati.

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