25 gamblers held in raid to be arraigned today

Kathmandu, October 30

Kathmandu Police will produce 25 ‘gamblers’ at Kathmandu District Court tomorrow when the court opens after Tihar festival.

Kathmandu Police raided Bikram Gautam’s residence in Mahrajgunj, Kathmandu metropolis-3, in the wee hours and arrested 25 people on the charge of illegal  gambling with 2.67 crore rupees. This is the first time police has seized such a huge amount from a gambling spot. Police also seized cowries, four packs of cards and a Bank of Kathmandu cheque of Rs 300,000 from the gambling spot.

The arrestees include high profile business persons and contractors, including Managing Director of Dynasty Air Pavitra Kumar Karki. Another accused Balaram Sapkota aka Bale is known to have casino business outside Nepal.

DSP Umesh Lamsal of Maharajgunj Circle, Kathmandu Metropolitan Range, said Shovit Silwal and Ashok Shrestha were repeat offenders and police were looking into the records of other accused also to ascertain if they were first time or repeat offenders.

Existing law has more sentence for repeat offenders.

DSP Umesh Lamsal of Metropolitan Police Circle Maharajgunj told THT the statements of the accused would be recorded after their first arraignment tomorrow. He said police would seek punishment as per the new penal code. He said some of the accused might have violated anti-money laundering laws and his office had been coordinating with Department of Money Laundering to help the latter investigate the accused.

Fourteen accused — including Balaram Sapkota, Mukti Lama, Pavitra Kumar Karki, Bikram Gautam and  Pawan Kumar Gupta — have filed writs of habeas corpus at the SC challenging their arrest, but the apex court has not issued any writ of mandamus. These cases are sub-judice at the SC.

The arrestees include Bikram Gautam, Buddha Lama, Mukti Lama, Pawan Kumar Agrawal, Suman Agrawal, Krishna Bhandari, Ram Tamang, Sitaram Khadka, Ashok Shrestha, Shyam Prasad Parajuli, Ranjan Rajbanshi, Nawang Lama, Dhawa Lama, Balaram Sapkota, Roshan Tamang, Ram Krishna KC, Indra Bahadur Shrestha, Prem Thapa Magar, Sohel Karki, Suman Gurung, Shovit Silwal, Bagmati Bhandari, Pavitra Kumar Karki, Shambhu Budhathoki, and Shambhu Sherpa.

Section 125 (a) of the new penal code imposes a jail term not exceeding three years and a fine not exceeding Rs 30,000 on gamblers and those who provide place to gamblers. Section 125 (b), has jail term not exceeding one year and a fine not exceeding Rs 50,000 on repeat offenders who have committed the crime for the second time. After the second time, the repeat offenders will face additional jail term up to three months and fine up to Rs 10,000 each time.