Thai group dupes four more Nepali students

Kathmandu, July 21

A Thailand-based Nepali group led by Socialist Party-Nepal central committee member Sunil Khadka, which recently duped 10 Nepali students on the pretext of providing hotel management training in Bangkok, has swindled at least four other students by providing false promises of training and internship in a glitzy setting in the Thai capital.

These four students were taken to Bangkok in March by Bag Bazaar-based Kirtipur Broad Studies, which is owned by Sunil’s brother Ramesh Khadka. THT has withheld identities of the four for privacy reasons.

The four students were supposed to undergo eight-month training at Bangkok-based International Hotel and Airline Business School, operated by Khadka, who is its managing director, Sujan Basnet, who is its director, and Siriwuth Wuthisuwanwat, a Thai national who is its president. Each of them had paid over USD 3,500 (approximately Rs 400,000) for the course.

But two of them returned to Nepal on June 5 and the other two returned on June 12 after they could not cope with subpar living conditions.

“We were kept in a shabby four-storey rented building without necessary equipment and resources to undergo training,” said one of the students. “We were also forced to work in a shoddy restaurant on the pretext of internship rather than in four- to five-star hotels as promised.”

The students soon complained they could no longer live and work in that environment and demanded that the school return their money so that they could go home.

“The school management agreed to return the money and signed separate agreements with students. But so far one has received Rs 100,000 and two have received Rs 22,000 each,” said one of the students, adding, “Ramesh Khadka has issued cheques ranging from Rs 122,000 to Rs 182,000 to each of us, but whenever we go to the bank to encash them we are told the account does not have sufficient balance.”

The school later used the same technique to defraud 10 other Nepali students, including two females. But this lot has not remained silent as the previous one.

Eight of these 10 students have produced a video explaining their living conditions and the false promises they were given. The video is available on the Facebook page of the Non-resident Nepali Association-Thailand.

The video shows students saying their passports have been seized and they are living in a pig pen like house without emergency exits. They said they did not have money for food and there were no medical facilities.

After the video was released, Non-resident Nepali Association-Thailand, sought the help of Nepali Embassy in Bangkok to rescue the students. The embassy then agreed to dispatch a team to rescue the students the next day. But when NRNA-Thailand members reached out to the embassy the next day, the embassy told them they had been in touch with students for the past two to three days and the students would soon come to the embassy to sign a ‘reconciliation agreement’.

“We were then forced to post an apologetic video claiming there was a misunderstanding and that the school’s President Siriwuth, who is at large, was the main culprit who duped Khadka and Basnet,” a student said. The apologetic video has also been posted on NRNA-Thailand’s Facebook page.

Since then students have signed an agreement with Sunil and Basnet in the presence of Bangkok-based Nepali Embassy officials. The agreement, copies of which have been obtained by THT, says the duo will return the money in Nepal. All 10 students have returned to Nepal.

“We have been given one-month post-dated cheques of Nepali banks,” said one student, adding, “We were warned not to talk to the media about this issue and if we did we were told we would not be able to encash the cheques.”

The embassy has played a very suspicious role in this case, as it has given the benefit of doubt to those who duped the students rather than the victims, according to NRNA-Thailand President Assajita Awale Dhanwa.  Sunil Khadka said he would visit Nepal in two weeks to resolve the matter. “I am in this situation because of those in the NRNA-Thailand who want to tarnish my image,” he claimed.