Nepal police arrested three individuals for extorting billions of rupees from hundreds of unemployed Nepali youths in exchange for Bhutanese refugee identification and sending them to the United States. Keshav Dulal, the personal secretary of former Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, Sanu Bhandari, and Tek Gurung are among those arrested.
When Koirala was foreign minister, Dulal was a member of her secretariat. Dulal remains politically active via Nepali Congress. After interviewing the victim, a Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office team detained him from Kathmandu on Sunday.
Under the persuasion of the then-Home Minister Balkrishna Khand, the police freed Dulal from detention within a few hours after his arrest, citing inadequate evidence.
Eighty-one victims filed police complaints against the three individuals who were arrested.
The victims had filed official complaints to the Valley Crime Investigation Office and other police offices, the district administration office and the district court on fraud claims.
The arrested individuals are suspected of having sent several men to the United States in exchange for billions of rupees, according to the police. According to victims, during the coronavirus pandemic, the masterminds of the operation secured refugee Identities and travel documents for 6,000 of the 16,000 youths in Jhapa.
The victims contacted the police after the arrested individuals failed to send them to the United States after receiving money. According to one of the victims, some youths have already left Nepal, dedicated to entering America via the US-Mexico border on foot.
Investigation done by the police revealed that they had initially collected 2 to 4 million rupees from Nepali citizens in exchange for a Bhutanese refugee identity card and other necessary documents.
"Approximately eight to nine months ago, a complaint was lodged about charges of fraud, specifically the sale of Bhutanese refugee identification to a Nepalese citizen in exchange for money. We were investigating these charges," SSP Manoj KC, head of the Valley Crime Investigation Office, told BL Media, "Those who have been arrested are the masterminds behind the conspiracy. We are also searching for their known associates."
A police officer involved in the investigation said that Sandesh Sharma and Gajendra Budhathoki of Dang, who collected money from the victims,
A police officer involved in the investigation said that the police are searching for Sandesh Sharma and Gajendra Budhathoki of Dang, who are suspected of collecting money from the victims.
The victim alleged that Sandesh Sharma, who is considered to be close to the former Prime Minister KP Oli and Shankar Pokharel, absconded with the money collected from more than 200 people. Gajendra Budhathoki, a relative of Congress leader Buddhi Bhandari of Dang, is a Nepali living in America. But, he recently returned to Nepal to concoct the nefarious scheme of transporting Nepalese to the United States as refugees. The preliminary investigation reveals that the Ministry of Home Affairs personnel, political leaders, and middlemen were involved in the scheme to send Nepalis to the United States as Bhutanese refugees.