THT 10 YEARS AGO: Middle-income group persons ‘key targets’

Kathmandu, October 16, 2007

Unlike what is generally believed, kidnappers in the Kathmandu Valley have been found to be aiming to take advantage of people from the middle-income group, who are “soft targets”, rather than those from the high-income group and transaction-related disputes and not ransom collection is the main cause behind abductions.

The middle-income group people are more “accessible to the kidnappers” and hence “soft targets” and it is easier for the kidnappers to acquire information about their victims, police say. DSP Uttam Subedi, head of the Kidnapping and Arms Investigation Section of the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD), Hanumandhoka, said that the kidnappers are found to be targeting middle-income traders. “Accessibility is the first factor the kidnappers consider and their own security comes next when planning and executing abductions,” he said. “Domestic helps, plumbers, painters and other people who frequently visit homes provide crucial information to the abductors for zeroing in on the kidnap target,” he said.

“About 60 per cent of the total 50 kidnapping cases reported in the MPCD in the past three months were found to be related with transaction-related disputes, 20 per cent were related with social disputes, 10 per cent cases with individual rivalry and another 10 per cent with collection of ransom,” Subedi said.

Birgunj ICD pact renegotiated

Kathmandu, October 16, 2007

The government has renegotiated a contract with a joint venture company operating the Inland Clearance Depot in Birgunj. Himalayan Terminals Pvt Ltd, a joint venture company operating the Inland Clearance Depot (ICD) in Birgunj, Nepal’s first and biggest dry port, had threatened to quit citing inadequate business, if the government did not review the contract by January 31, 2007.

A senior official at the Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board said it would have been a major disaster had Himalayan Terminals stopped operating the ICD. The renegotiation, which was started in January this year in Kathmandu gained momentum in August and was completed after three rounds last week.

The renegotiated three-year contract is awaiting cabinet approval, the official said. He added that the ground was now open for negotiations with the Indian government on various issues to increase the traffic of goods at the ICD. Himalayan Terminals is a joint venture with the Container Corporation of India.

Himalayan Terminals started operation in July 2004 and under the original pact, it had to pay the Nepal government around Rs 956 million in installments. Out of this amount, Rs 806 million was to be paid in the next seven years. Now the revised target is Rs 135 million (minimum lease amount) for the next three years with a new provision for revenue sharing.