February 21, 2019 07:00 AM NPT
By: KP DHUNGANA
‘Pathak was planning to extort Rs 250 million from local governments of Province 2’. ‘His brother Shubh Narayan took Rs 1.5 million for securing college affiliation’
KATHMANDU, Feb 21: Last week, a video clip implicating then CIAA commissioner Raj Narayan Pathak in a bribery of Rs 7.8 million from a Bhaktapur-based college triggered a series of events culminating in his resignation from the post. What was not known was who shot the video, how and why.
Republica finally tracked down the ‘who’ on Tuesday. He was a national-level sportsperson. He was reluctant to speak to the press but agreed to meet this reporter after repeated requests.
After meeting up with him at Anamnagar and a brief conversation, he showed the way to his nearby office. He agreed to divulge the story only on condition of not disclosing his name and taking photos from behind only. What follows is the story behind the video in his own words.
Raj Narayan Pathak’s younger brother Shubh Narayan Pathak once tried to meet a friend of mine. He told my friend that he wanted to become the dean of Purbanchal University and if my friend helped with that, he would provide my friend affiliation for an engineering college. My friend obliged and Shuva Narayan became dean. But his behavior changed after that, and there was no affiliation forthcoming.
Asked about this, Shubh Narayan demanded a bribe of Rs 1.5 million to finance his daughter’s medical training in Bangladesh. Since my friend had already invested heavily in a college in Bhaktapur he produced the Rs 1.5 million, and the college affiliation materialized.
When the CIAA started an investigation into Bhaktapur-based Nepal Engineering College, its operator Lambodar Neupane approached my friend since he knew of the transaction with Shubh Narayan.
“I have come to know that you have good relations with Raj Narayan’s brother,” he said, “The CIAA case needs to be put on hold.” My friend was ready to help, and he got in touch with Commissioner Pathak who said he would do it for Rs 16.5 million. My friend went to meet him and a deal was struck!
They agreed that the money would be delivered in stages. Pathak first took Rs 4 million. In the next stage he was given Rs 3.8 million. On both occasions, the money was delivered in boxes of sweets to avert any suspicions.
Despite the second delivery, Pathak did not oblige my friend. Instead, he threatened that the case would not be put on hold if the remaining Rs 8.7 million was also provided, in five days.
“The process of putting the case on hold has already started, but if you do not cough up the remaining sum in five days, things are not going anywhere,” he said.
My friend was startled by Pathak’s remark. And the person who gave my friend the money started asking it back since the favor promised was not forthcoming.
It was in that dire situation that he approached me. He had recorded his phone conversation with Pathak on his mobile phone. It was clear in the recording that Pathak had taken Rs 7.8 million and was asking for the remaining amount.
“I was just trying to help and I’ve landed in trouble,” he said after playing the recording for me. I agreed to help him.
I thought Pathak could be lured into a meeting if I posed as an operator of a college who was in trouble. Pathak asked me to come to the CIAA the very next day. I reached the CIAA office on January 28, 2018.
“How I can help you?” he asked when we were alone in his office.
“I have not come for your help, but to help you,” I replied and asked him if he knew my friend. He insisted that he did not. I then told him I had a recording of his telephone conversation with my friend. Even after that, he refused to admit to taking any bribe. In the end, I gave him three days to come clean before I stormed out of the room.
I could not meet him for the next 35 days although I tried eight times. In those 35 days, however, he did everything to intimidate me and my friend and seize the recording. We were taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD) and interrogated several times. MPCD chief SSP Dhiraj Pratap Singh was also involved. Political agents approached us. Even goons were sent to our office. However, we did not give in.
I began to feel that the voice in the recording could be anyone’s. So I devised another plan to generate stronger evidence.
I called Pathak on the 35th day and told him that if he would not meet me I would present the evidence to the government. He agreed to meet me the very next day.
When I did meet him, I was ready with a secret camera fitted in my jacket. I tried to make him admit his wrongdoing. After two failed attempts, I realized I needed another tack.
I knew that the chief of the CIAA was going to be changed. So, in the third meeting, I pretended to take his side and said I wanted him to be the next chief commissioner.
He knew that I had links to the ruling political party and asked my help. I told him I would help and he would also not have to worry about the mobile recording until he became chief commissioner. He then admitted his mistake and begged for my help.
I started going to his Shantinagar residence repeatedly. We would meet every day and discuss various plots. After meeting him six times, he started to open up. He said he would give me as much as Rs 500 million after he became CIAA chief.
In the following six months, he confessed to several cases of graft involving himself as well as his brother. I recorded all of this with my secret camera.
After I had collected enough evidence, I showed him the videos and told him to be ready to face action.
“You have turned out to be a betrayer,” he said.
“You betrayed my friend first,” I said.
He begged me to not take any action and grabbed my legs. “Even this is being recorded,” I said.
While I and my friend were discussing how to expose Pathak, we heard that he was trying to bring cases of corruption against 1,000 officials at various local levels of Province 2 with a view to extorting as much as Rs 250 million.
We approached NCP leader from Jhapa Rabin Koirala. We showed him five hours of footage. He agreed to help. We showed the footage to NCP leaders Subhas Nembang and Agni Kharel also. They all agreed that we needed to take some action.
They helped us go to the prime minister’s official residence and we showed the footage to Prime Minister KP Oli. After listening to everything we had to say, Oli said he was ready to take action against Pathak. He immediately gave directions to prepare for an impeachment. Pathak resigned the next day.
These were just some of the cases where Pathak extorted money, abusing his authority as a commissioner of the CIAA. He has said in the footage that he threatened Vice Chancellor of Purbanchal University Ghanashyam Das to make sure his brother got a second tenure as dean. He extorted Rs 3 million from Director General of the Railway Department Balaram Mishra. Dean of the Institute of Medicine Rikesh Shrivastav resigned after Pathak pressured him to admit his daughter in an MD course.
I have come to know that Pathak has piled up an immense amounts of money in the names of his relatives in Nepal as well as India. If the state runs an investigation into his wealth, all his wrongdoings will be exposed.