Former envoy Jha murdered, motive a mystery

Kathmandu, August 20

Career diplomat and former Nepali ambassador to France Keshab Raj Jha was found murdered in his bedroom on the second floor of his two-storey residence, fenced by around six-foot-tall wall, early this morning. Jha, 79, lived with his wife in their sprawling bungalow at Prasuti Griha Marg, Babar Mahal, in the heart of the capital.

“His body, which was lying on the bed, was neatly covered with a quilt with throat slit with a kitchen knife,” Senior Superintendent of Police Dhiraj Pratap Singh told THT. “The blood-stained kitchen knife was placed on the quilt.” Another senior police officer said Jha also suffered injuries to his head and there were two minor bruises on his chest.

The body was lying in a pool of blood when police arrived, witnesses said. The police arrived at the crime scene at around 8:00 am, about half an hour after being informed.

Singh said Jha could have been “murdered” at around midnight. “It looks like the murder took place between 12:00 am and 1:00 am.” “The motive may not be robbery because the house and Jha’s room have not been ransacked,” said Singh.

The door and a window of the bedroom, where Jha’s body was found, “were open”, according to a police source. “The net of one of the windows was torn on the top right corner. But it is not sure whether the murderers tore the net to open the latch and enter the room,” a police source said.

Police have not been able to gather much information about the murder from Jha’s wife, Gyanu, 75, as well, as she “did not share the bedroom with her husband”. She used to live a secluded life and avoided contact with other human beings, Jha’s neighbour, Kumar Shrestha, 50, said. His son, Kiran Raj, a doctor, and his wife are not here either. The duo flew back to Ireland, where they are based, on Saturday, and Jha’s daughter, Rajshree, also a doctor, is in East Timor working for the United Nations. Jha’s son will return to Nepal in a few days.

Police have detained three suspects for interrogation. They are Sanu Tamang, a domestic help who was living with Jha for the last 10 years, and two gardeners. Tamang, 50, was a close aide of Jha and used to live in the servants quarters in Jha’s house, according to neighbours. Tamang’s family, including wife and two daughters, reside in Kalanki.

Tamang claimed that he was unaware of the murder until he visited Jha’s room. Jha used to wake Tamang up at around 4:00 am during days when water supply company distributed water in the locality, according to neighbours, who referred to Jha as “a friendly person”. Today was one such day when the company had supplied water in the area, they said. But Jha was not awake till late in the morning. Tamang then visited Jha’s room to deliver the morning tea and found him dead in a pool of blood, neighbours said. Police said someone from the house called Jha’s relative in Baneshwor, who then informed the police about the murder. “Most probably we’ll come to a conclusion in a few days,” said SSP Singh.