Kathmandu, April 26

Deputy Superintendent of Police Sanjay Raut presented himself before the probe committee led by joint secretary Ishwar Raj Paudel at the Ministry of Home Affairs after it initiated the process of declaring him an absconder.

He had given the probe committee the slip in Singha Durbar on the pretext of answering the nature’s call on Tuesday when he was summoned to record his statement in connection with the February 2 murder of Sanam Shakya, 36, an alleged carrier of smuggled gold, in Morang and the disappearance of 33 kg precious yellow metal. Nepal Police Headquarters had issued a circular to all its units for the arrest of DSP Raut. A ministry source said he presented himself before the probe committee due to fear of being declared an absconder.

The source informed that the committee recorded his statements and referred him to District Police Office, Morang. Earlier, former DIG Govinda Niraula, erstwhile police chief of Tribhuvan International Airport, SP Bikashraj Khanal and sub-inspectors Bal Krishna Sanjel and Gajendra Rawal were arrested and sent to DPO, Morang. The Morang District Court today extended the remand of Khanal, Raut and Sanjel by five days. They have been charged with murder and organised crime.

SSP Dinesh Lohani and DSP Prajit KC of Metropolitan Police Crime Division have already been relieved of their responsibility for investigation into the murder and disappearance of the gold. A home ministry official said 23 persons, including senior cops, had been arrested for investigation so far.  Similarly, the committee has written to Nepal Police to produce SSP Shyam Khatri before it to record his statement. However, his whereabouts have yet to be known. The source said the committee was also likely to summon former inspector general of police Prakash Aryal for interrogation as MPCD team had reached Morang by taking his permission instead of reporting this to its immediate boss erstwhile AIG Jaya Bahadur Chand, metropolitan police commissioner, after the murder of Shakya.

The ministry treated this incident seriously on suspicion that some police officials acted in collusion with gold smugglers to kill Shakya, 36, of Morang and hide the gold he was carrying. Chudamani Uprety aka Gore, the mastermind behind the gold smuggling, is absconding and was allegedly assisted by the cops to escape.

Recently, the committee briefed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on increasing cases of gold smuggling to Nepal from China and Gulf countries. According to the committee, over 3,000 kilograms of gold were smuggled in the past two years against the seizure of around 300 kg only.