Concocts a fictional end to Sobhraj saga in its eight-episode series
Kathmandu, April 25
Popular Netflix Series on Charles Sobhraj, The Serpent, has got an important bit of information on how he was arrested in Kathmandu wrong.
Charles Sobhraj, who has been cooling his heels in a Kathmandu prison since September 2003, was arrested after The Himalayan Times published a scoop on his presence in Kathmandu. However, the Netflix docudrama, which has filmed other events on the notorious serial killer's life as they happened and has not claimed it is a work of fiction, has got wrong a vital piece of information on his arrest that eventually led to his conviction for murders of a Canadian backpacker (Laurent Carriere) and his American friend (Connie Jo Bronzich) that he committed in Nepal in 1975.
The eighth episode of the eight-part Netflix series shows Sobhraj landing at Tribhuwan International Airport and getting himself photographed outside the airport the very day he landed. It aims to give the impression that Sobhraj planted the story himself in a fictitious newspaper, Rashmi Report, and got himself arrested.
However, facts are different from what has been picturised in the Netflix series. It was The Himalayan Times journalist who spotted Sobhraj gambling on a Baccarat table in Casino Royale in Hotel Yak and Yeti.
After recognising Sobhraj, the journalist got Sobhraj dropped off in the casino's vehicle to get to know where he was staying. Thereafter, the guest relations manager of the casino gave the journalist the name of the hotel where he was staying.
The Himalayan Times then stationed a photographer outside that hotel in Thamel. It was after a wait of about a week that the photographer was able to follow Sobhraj and take his pictures while he was making a phone call from a PCO in New Road. On September 17, The Himalayan Times carried a front page scoop headlined 'The Serpent living incognito in Thamel'. A day after that, Sobhraj was arrested from Casino Royale.
What Netflix claims
• Sobhraj planted a story about him being in Kathmandu on the very day he landed in Nepal in 2003
• He gets himself photographed outside Tribhuwan International Airport
• The story is carried by a fictitious newspaper, Rashmi Report, with headline 'Charles Sobhraj Returns to Kathmandu'
What actually happened
• Sobhraj landed in Nepal on 1 September 2003, but was arrested more than a fortnight later
• He was spotted in Casino Royale in Yak and Yeti by a THT journalist
• THT stationed a photographer outside the hotel where he was staying in Thamel
• On September 16, THT photographer clicked Sobhraj's photos after following him to New Road
• The next day The Himalayan Times carried a story headlined 'The Serpent living incognito in Thamel'
• Sobhraj was arrested from Casino Royale on September 18. He was later convicted for the murders of 1975
(Anuj Arora is the News Editor of The Himalayan Times)
A version of this article appears in the print on April 26, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.