Special probe committee’s deadline extended by a month

Kathmandu, June 17

The tenure of the special probe committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to investigate the March 2 murder of Sanam Shakya and the disappearance of 33 kilograms of smuggled gold has been extended by a month for the second time.

The nine-member panel comprising police officials and anti-graft investigators is led by joint secretary Ishwor Raj Paudel at the MoHA. A source said the ministry had received a letter for extending the panel’s deadline from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers. “The MoHA had proposed deadline extension of the investigation committee during the June 15 Cabinet meeting. The ministry received a letter about the approval of the proposal today,” the source informed.

The probe panel was formed on April 3 after Shakya was allegedly electrocuted by members of the smuggling racket led by Chudamani Upreti aka Gore in collusion with some police officials in Urlabari of Morang on March 2 for ‘involvement in the disappearance of the gold smuggled from Dubai’. It was given 45 days to submit its report. But a team deployed from Metropolitan Police Crime Division claimed that ‘three persons were arrested while transporting Shakya’s body to a forest in Pokhariya of Biratnagar ‘for disposal’ on March 3. Those arrested were Narendra Karki, Tekraj Malla and Mohan Kafle.

“The panel’s deadline was extended by 25 days on May 19 for the first time. Therefore the ministry requested the government to extend its term by one month until mid-July,” the source said.

Earlier, Minister of Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa had hinted that the panel was likely to catch ‘big fish’ of the gold smuggling racket soon. “The act of fishing has yet to be completed. Investigation to establish the persons involved in the gold smuggling is on. We have so far just managed to catch some fingerlings. We are confident that the probe panel will be able to catch big fish now,” he claimed.

The probe committee has already filed a charge-sheet at Morang District Court against 63 suspects for kidnapping, hostage taking, murder and smuggling. Of them, 30 suspects, including Mohan Kumar Agrawal and Chetan Bhandari are still at large. According to the probe panel, the racket, in cahoots with jewellers, police and customs officials, had managed to smuggle around 3,800 kg gold with market value of over Rs 17 billion from Dubai through Tribhuvan International Airport in 421 trips since 2015.