4 involved in attempted extortions land in police net in Pokhara

POKHARA: Police in Kaski district today made public a gang of four persons who were arrested on charge of extortion.

The gang members had been coercing Provincial Assembly member Bindu Kumar Thapa, estate agents Kalu Gurung and Bodh Raj Giri, and Manakamana cable car operator Rajesh Babu Shrestha through phone calls and SMS into giving them millions of rupees. The arrestees had threatened to kill them if their demands were not met.

Police have arrested Nal Bahadur Gurung (35) of Taksar Area in Putali Bazar Municipality-6, Amrit Khadka (26) and Shiva Karki (23) of Phedikhola Rural Municipality, the trio from Syangja district, and Ramu Subedi (27) of Kushma Municipality-10 in Parbat district. All four of the alleged extortionists had been residing in Pokhara Lekhnath Municipality-6 in Kaski district.

The accused gang members used the cell phone number 9865165512 to send SMS for blackmailing the individuals, Officiating Chief of District Police Office, Kaski, Ashok Singh said.

The statement given by the gang members shows that Khadka phoned and coerced the lawmakers and entrepreneurs by describing themselves as members of the Manoj Pun group, while Subedi went to India and made phone calls impersonating Manoj Pun using an Indian SIM card.

Acting on the complaint lodged by lawmaker Thapa and estate agent Giri, police arrested the gang members from separate locations in Pokhara on Monday and Tuesday. The gang had sent SMS to the PA member and estate agent demanding Rs 20 million and Rs 100 million respectively, threatening to kill them if their demands were not met within three days.

The security personnel in coordination with the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) nabbed the alleged extortionists after checking the call detail record (CDR), Police Chief Singh said.

Police have seized two SIM cards and a mobile phone set from the possession of Khadka and Subedi, who said a person called Shankar Gurung was the mastermind behind the coercion.

It has been learnt that the construction entrepreneurs in the district received anonymous SMS and calls that demanded three per cent of the contract commission on Wednesday. The SMS contained threat that they would be killed like the President of Federation of Contractors’ Association of Nepal Sharad Kumar Gauchan, who was shot in Kathmandu, in October 2017 if their demands were ignored.

Meanwhile, a team headed by Basudev Gauchan, President of Construction Entrepreneurs' Association, Kaski, has demanded firm action from the DPO against the perpetrators.

Further investigation into the case is underway; the case has been lodged at the District Court, Kaski.