Absconding 'Avatari Lama' imposter held for swindling

PHIDIM: A man who allegedly swindled at least 10 people of valuables worth Rs 1.8 million in Phidim in the disguise of an Avatari Lama has landed in police net.

Tenzing Ghising Bhutia (41), a permanent resident of Darjeeling of India, was arrested on Saturday from Dumre of Tanahun district and brought to Panchthar. He was paraded at the District Police Office in Phidim amid a press conference today.

According to police, the Indian national was one of the inmates who fled the Sindhupalchok District Prison during the earthquake on April 25 last year.

Preliminary investigation revealed that Bhutia had spent 16 years in different monasteries learning Buddhism. He had frequently visited Nepal in the last 10 years.

Besides in Panchthar, the suspect cheated many persons in Kathmandu, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok and Udayapur districts posing himself as a revered monk, police said.

After escaping from the prison, Bhutia immediately went to India, but came back to Nepal after around six months.

Police confiscated various gold and silver ornaments, Rs 158,000 in cash, a driving licence and a mobile set from him, DSP Krishna Prasad Koirala informed at the press conference.

Bhutia is also accused of defrauding two families of Rs 1.5 million in Gaighat of Udayapur district before targeting locals of Phidim.

Staying at a hotel in Phidim last month, he had cheated some locals telling them that he was a fortuneteller and could heal any sickness.

Meanwhile, police presented the suspect before the District Court today. The Court remanded him to custody for further investigation.