#Fake Bhutanese refugee scam

‘It is difficult to complete investigation within deadline’

Published On: May 19, 2023 03:40 PM NPT By: Arun Bam

KATHMANDU, May 19: On the one hand, as new facts are being discovered every day, more people have to be arrested and brought under the scope of investigation, on the other hand, the statute of limitation of '60 days' for investigation of fake Bhutanese refugees is nearing end.

According to the Organized Crime Prevention Act, 2070, the arrested person can be detained for 60 days and investigated. According to the law, the deadline has come to an end. As the deadline approaches, police are under constant pressure from the District Government Attorney Office, Kathmandu, to complete the investigation and submit the report.

District Police Range, Kathmandu has led the investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam. As required, Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office, Kathmandu District Police Circle, Kathmandu Valley Police Office, Ranipokhari, Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police and Police Headquarters, Naxal, are also assisting the District Police Range, Kathmandu in the investigation.

Even when a large team is involved, the police are struggling to manage the time and complete the investigation within the deadline. “There is pressure from the District Government Attorney Office to submit the report sooner than later,” Superintendent of Police (SP) Sita Ram Rijal, spokesperson for the District Police Range, Kathmandu, said, “We are finding new information in the course of our investigation. There is a lack of time to check the facts of the information and reach the accused.”

The District Government Attorney Office had earlier instructed the police to complete the investigation by Tuesday and submit the report on Wednesday for which directive has expired. After running out of time, the District Government Attorney Office, considering the seriousness of the situation, extended the time frame till Friday and made it easier for the police to investigate.

“Our expectation is that the police investigation report will come by today (Friday). Because this case is very deep-rooted, we also need time to study and prosecute,” Achyut Mani Neupane, Chief of the District Government Attorney Office, said, “Well, they (police) are also under a lot of pressure. More people have been arrested in connection with the case and new issues have been found.”

The police arrested Nepal Hajj Committee Chairman Shamsher Miya and Bhutanese refugee leader Tek Nath Rijal on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the scam. It has been revealed that the government vehicle used by Miya was used by members of the fraud gang to transfer money.

According to police sources, Rijal was arrested after investigations revealed that he had accepted worth Rs 0.7 million from a member of the fraud gang. The police have taken permission from the District Court Kathmandu to detain both of them for two days for investigation. The work of taking statements from both of them remains. Statements of 14 people arrested earlier have been recorded.

Police are still searching for 15-16 people with arrest warrants. Among them are Prateek Thapa, son of CPN-UML Vice Chairman and former Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, and Niraj Rai, son of Indrajit Rai, who was the security advisor when Thapa was Home Minister. When they are arrested, more new secrets may be revealed in the investigation.

Therefore, the situation has been seen that the police have to complete the investigation and submit the report by today.

“The situation is very critical to be able to submit the report even today,” Spokesperson SP Rijal said, “There is no pre-statement to say that this will happen.”

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Dan Bahadur Karki, who is leading the police investigation, said that he is preparing to submit the report by today (Friday). “I can't say for sure yet. But our effort is to submit the report by today,” he said.

Simultaneous investigation and prosecution 

Friday marks the 56th day of the police investigation into the Bhutanese refugee case. According to the provisions of the Organized Crime Prevention Act, the case must be filed with the prosecution in the District Court Kathmandu by the 60th day i.e. next Tuesday (May 23). Generally, it is a practice for the police to submit the investigation report of organized crime by the 57th day. In the remaining three days, the District Government Attorney Office prepares the charge sheet and files the case. But in this case, the investigation officer says that the entire investigation has not been completed within the 57th day.

Neupane, chief of the District Government Attorney Office, Kathmandu, says that he is aware of this matter. Therefore, he claims that he facilitated the investigation by the police from the District Government Attorney Office. “We have asked to give a report by Friday but there is no situation that a complete report will be presented,” Neupane said, “Therefore, we are ready to file a case together with the investigation and prosecution work and then continue the investigation and prosecution work side by side.”

“In this case, involvement of many people representing different parties and many lawsuits may be included, so we are preparing accordingly. Although the police report has not yet been submitted, we have already started prosecution preparations as we have been together in the case and have understood many facts,” he said. Neupane also added that the office has enough manpower for prosecution. 


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