Fake Bhutanese Refugee Scam

Police make two more high-profile arrests

Published On: May 19, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Bhutanese refugee leader Tek Nath Rijal and chairman of the Hajj Committee Shamsher Miya arrested on Thursday

KATHMANDU, May 19: Police made two more high-profile arrests in connection with the fake Bhutanese refugee scam on Thursday.

Police arrested a prominent leader of the Bhutanese refugees Tek Nath Rijal and Chairman of Nepal Hajj Committee, Shamsher Miya, in connection with the ongoing investigations into the multi-million scam.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Dan Bahadur Karki, chief of Kathmandu Police Range, said Rijal was arrested for necessary investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugees scam.

Police arrested Rijal from Jhapa and brought him to Kathmandu on Thursday. Rijal’s involvement in the case has been suspected after Sanu Bhandari, an accused of the case, stated in his diary that he had provided Rijal with Rs 700,000. 

Rijal, however, has been refuting the accusation. Of late, Rijal has been raising the issue of rehabilitating the remaining over 6,000 Bhutanese refugees. 

Four years ago, the government had formed a task force led by Joint Secretary Balkrishna Panthi to resolve the problems related to the Bhutanese refugees, who still lived in the camps in Nepal after all other refugees were resettled in various western countries including the US.   

Similarly, chairman of Nepal Hajj Committee, Miya, was arrested from Kathmandu on Thursday itself in connection with the same scam. Police said further investigation into his involvement in the case is underway.

Miya was arrested after it was revealed that a government vehicle of the Hajj Committee was used in the fake Bhutanese scam. The vehicle was reportedly brought to use in the name of interviewing the victims.

The gang involved in the scam used a vehicle with government number plates to show that the interview was being conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The police investigation revealed that Miya had provided the vehicle to the gang.

Police have arrested a total of 16 people including former home minister Bal Krishna Khand, former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, former home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa’s security advisor Indrajit Rai and former home secretary Tek Narayan Pandey for their alleged involvement in sending Nepali nationals to the US in the guise of Bhutanese refugees.

Former lawmaker Angtawa Sherpa, Keshav Dulal, Sanu Bhandari, Sagar Thulung Rai, Tanka Gurung, Sandesh Sharma Pokharel, and Sandeep Rayamajhi are also among those arrested in connection with this scam. Meanwhile, Pratik Thapa, son of former deputy prime minister and home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and Niraj Rai, son of Indrajit Rai, are currently on the run.

As it has been revealed that the state machinery was hugely misused by extorting large sums of money from Nepali citizens with the promise of sending them to America in the guise of refugees, the police have to investigate new facts and evidence each day.

The Nepal Police under instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs had launched an investigation into a criminal group involved in fraud on June 14, 2022. The group had allegedly been scamming people for the past five years by promising to fly Nepalis to the US as Bhutanese refugees.

The victims had filed a case against the group at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority at the end of 2021. However, the case was brought to the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office only in June 2022.

According to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Nepal Police Kuber Kadayat, who is also the central spokesperson of Nepal Police, a total of 17 first incident reports (FIR) and 123 formal complaints have been filed with the police citing they were fleeced of millions of rupees in the pretext of sending them to the US as Bhutanese refugees.


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