Morang District court proceeds trial hearing on 33kg gold smuggling

BIRATNAGAR: The district court of Morang has started recording statements of those held for their suspected hand in the smuggling of 33 kg gold and the murder of carrier Sanam Shakya.

According to court registrar Nawaraj Dulal, preliminary statements of six of the 29 accused held so far, namely, Tekraj Malla Thakuri, Mohan Kafle, Lakpa Sherpa, Madan Prasad Ghimire, Narendra Karki and Rajan Kumar, were recorded in the first phase today. Statements of others will be recorded by Sunday, said Dulal.

Yesterday, the District Attorney Office of Morang had filed four cases against 63 persons, including seven incumbent and a retired police officer, 29 of who have been arrested so far, at the district court in connection with the high-profile smuggling and the related murder. District Judge Narayan Prasad Sharma will hear the cases.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that smuggling of gold has been going on through Tribhuvan International Airport under police protection for the past three years. As per the probe committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to investigate smuggling, Chudamani Upreti alias Gore and his gang managed to smuggle about 3,800 kg gold with market value of over Rs 17 billion since 2015.

The charge-sheet filed by the district attorney’s office claims that the incumbent and retired police officers have pocketed around Rs 13 million in commission from smugglers for their help since 2015. The charge-sheet alleges that former DIG Govind Niraula received Rs 1.7 million, SSP Shyam Bahadur Khatri pocketed Rs 11.29 million, Bikashraj Khanal Rs 5 lakh and DSP Sanjaya Raut pocketed Rs 1.5 million in commission from smugglers.

The charge-sheet identifies retired deputy inspector general Govind Niraula as the main facilitator in the smuggling racket. As per the document presented in the court, Niraula and Gore’s father, Netra Prasad Upreti, were friends. While Niraula was in Nepal Police and was stationed at Tribhuvan International Airport, Gore and his gang managed to rope in DIG Niraula, SSP Khatri, SP Khanal, DSP Raut, as well as Constable Bishnu Bahadur Khadka and Head Constable Ambar Bahadur Thapa Magar in the racket by providing them some commission.

The charge-sheet claims that the call details of Gore and police officers and a record book of transactions kept by Gore that the police have seized, prove police’s complicity in smuggling.

As per the probe findings, police provided safe passage for the smuggled gold from the airport every time. Many a time, SSP Khatri himself helped clear the smuggled gold out of the airport, while at other times his security guard Bishnu Khadka and Ambar Bahadur Thapa Magar did the same. Police officers used government offices, manpower, resources and other forces in illegal activities. The charge-sheet filed at the court against 63 persons seeks to recover over Rs 17 billion, the worth of gold smuggled over the past three years, from them.

It has also sought 10-year prison term, fine and confiscation of their families’ property, as per the Customs Act and the Organised Crime Elimination Act; an organised crime and murder case has been slapped against Sub-inspector Balkrishna Sanjel; five years’ prison sentence and five lakh in fine have been sought against defendants SSP Dibesh Lohani and DSP Prajit KC, as per the Organised Crime Elimination Act.


BIRATNAGAR: The District Court Morang has started recording statements of six persons who have been presented in the court in connection with the smuggling of 33 kg gold.

A single bench no. 6 of Justice Narayan Prasad Sharma has started recording the statement made by Takraj Malla Thakuri, Madan Prasad Ghimire, Mohan Kafle, Lakpa Sherpa, Narendra Karki, and Rajan Kumar since 11:00 am today.

It has been learnt that the statement would be recorded until Sunday.

Cases have been filed at the court against 63 persons, including seven serving policemen, in connection with gold smuggling and recent murder of carrier Sanam Shakya.

As many as 29 persons including six police personnel detained in connection with the case were remanded to judicial custody on Wednesday, while 34 others, including SSP Shyam Bahadur Khatri, Chudamani Upreti alias Gore, and his wife Narbada Kharel are absconding.

Police have filed organised crime, gold smuggling, abduction and murder cases against them, claiming that about 3,800 kg gold worth more that Rs 17 billion was smuggled into the country since July 2015.