HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The police investigation into the March 25 abduction of construction contractor Prakash Babu Panta (46) from Chabahil and his subsequent murder the same day has revealed that the abductors had made repeated attempts for ransom even after his death resulting from overdose of sedative drug ‘sizopin’. This new modus operandi has alarmed police, according to the officials.
The probe revealed that the kidnappers offered Panta of Prithvinarayan- 9, Gorkha, cold drinks spiked with sedative drug ‘sizopin’ that resulted in his death the same day. Drugged, the abductors had taken Panta’s body from a room in Chabahil to the Kakani jungle on May 26 and buried there to destroy the evidence.
Investigators unravelled the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Panta of Gorkha, who had businesses in the Kathmandu Valley and Dang, with the arrest of five people involved in the crime, namely Som Bahadur Shrestha (39) of Jhapa, Komananda Khadka alias (26) of Dang, Ratna Bahadur Tamang (26) of Bhojpur, Bhakta Bahadur Tamang (31) of Nuwakot and Dirgharaj Rai (24) of Kavre.
SSP Devendra Subedi, in-charge of the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, said the organised kidnapping racket had demanded a ransom of five million rupees from his family members and fellow businessmen. “A preliminary probe suggests a cold drink offered to him was laced with six tablets of sizopin-100 and the victim died of drug overdose,” he informed. Police said the body would be exhumed tomorrow.
Of the arrestees, Som Bahadur Shrestha was a fugitive Nepali Army soldier, Bhakta Bahadur had deserted Nepal Police during the insurgency, whereas Som Bahadur, the owner of the Chabahil-based Greenlight Cabin Restaurant, was the mastermind behind the kidnapping-for-ransom bid.
DSP Hridaya Thapa said Som Bahadur made his two waitresses to lure Panta, a client, into coming to the restaurant to enjoy a moment before his associates took him to Koteshwor to hold him captive and seek a hefty ransom from family members for his release.
Ten days after Panta’s death, the racketeers went into hiding in Nepal and India to evade arrest and demand ransom for ‘his safe release’, saying the ‘victim was in their custody’. A team of Inspector Dipti Karki had managed to nab three abductors from Madhepura of Bihar and two others from Bhaktapur and Sunsari.
The kidnappers had used Indian SIM card and VoIP netphone to issue threats from across the Nepali border to fleece the victim’s family.