THT 10 YEARS AGO: Gang involved in Murarka abduction busted

Kathmandu, February 27, 2008

The police have busted the gang that was allegedly involved in the abduction of at least 53 persons, including businessmen Mahesh Murarka and Pawal Agrawal for ransom, with the arrest of gang’s kingpin and one of his accomplices.

A team led by SP Devendra Subedi arrested kingpin Amar Tandon and his accomplice Ram Kumar Pyakurel of Nuwakot from Balaju a few days ago. “Ten others involved in the racket, including Indian nationals Abinash alias Arjun and Ali Musalman, Ali’s two friends, Prahlad Mahat of Sarlahi, Ram Singh, Kamal Singh and Bishnu GC are still at large,” SSP Upendra Kant Aryal, chief of Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD), said during a press meet organised by the MPCD today.

According to the police, the gang was being operated from Mumbai where Tandon used to stay. The group had hired two houses — at Mandikhatar (for Rs 16,000) and Bouddha (for Rs 17,000) — to hold people captive. “The group was using six vehicles, including a motorcycle, three Maruti cars, a Santro car and a jeep, to kidnap and transport captives.

They were using a country made pistol and a Chinese pistol,” Aryal said. The police said the gang would plan their activities in Mumbai, Rupendehi and Hotel Gautam at Jamal.

When Arafat almost kissed Benazir Bhutto!

New Delhi, February 27, 2008

A book dedicated to Benazir Bhutto by a former aide says that the slain Pakistani former premier was paranoid about shaking hands with men, but Palestinian icon Yasser Arafat came close to kissing her one day! Retired Pakistani diplomat Arshad Sami Khan, who served Bhutto when she became PM for the first time, says although she was “a liberated Muslim she was extremely careful about her personal demeanour”.

Bhutto’s first instruction to Khan as the Chief of Protocol was that he she does not shake hands with men, the author says in his book ‘Three Presidents and An Aide: Life, Power and Politics’, which former prime minister IK Gujral will release here tomorrow. Khan quotes Bhutto as telling him: “Sami, make sure everyone knows this as I don’t wish to appear rude by not taking a man’s extended hand. So make it clear to all that I don’t shake hands with men.” The instruction, Khan says, was duly followed until one day Arafat came visiting Karachi.

The Palestinian leader had held Benazir’s late father ZA Bhutto in great esteem “and thus looked upon her with the affections of an uncle”.

The author says he told Arafat as much: “Excellency, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is downstairs waiting to receive you and may I take the opportunity to remind you that she does not shake hands with men!”