Two Nepalis, accused by high-level probe team in gold smuggling case, held with 33kg gold in Kolkata

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Dec 15, 2018-

Nepal’s Consulate General in Kolkata has said two Nepali nationals were arrested with 33kg gold in the Indian city.

Hem Prasad Sharma and Rakesh Prasad were nabbed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Kolkata, on December 7 at Dankuni Toll Plaza on the Delhi-Kolkata Highway.

What makes their arrest significant is that both Sharma and Prasad have been named in the report of a high-level committee led by Eshor Raj Poudel, formed to probe the 33kg gold smuggling case. The panel’s report has named 293 individuals for further investigation into the smuggling racket led by Chudamani Upreti aka Gore that allegedly smuggled around 3.9 tonnes of gold since July 2015 via the Tribuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

The 33kg gold mysteriously disappeared from Anamnagar, Kathmandu, last year. This led to the killing of Sanam Shakya, a major aide to Gore. Gore is said to have tortured Shakya to death to extract information about the disappeared gold, which reportedly belonged to Mohan Kumar Agrawal.

Gore is also the suspected murderer of Sanu Ban, a TIA staffer who helped him take the gold out of the airport. The Poudel-led committee’s report has pointed out Agrawal as the major investor of the smuggled gold. Both Sharma and Prasad are residents of Sunsari and so is Agrawal.

According to Eaknarayn Aryal, Nepali consul general in Kolkata, Sharma and Prasad had hidden the gold in a specially built box secretly fixed behind the dashboard and inside a cavity built near the gearbox of the Maruti Swift vehicle.

The Indian authorities informed Aryal about their arrest on Friday. “After the Indian agency informed that they had arrested two Nepali nationals with illegal gold, I informed Eshor Raj Poudel about it,” Aryal told the Post over phone.

Aryal said they were detained by the revenue authority and interrogation was going on. “We’ll talk to the Indian agency after the office opens on Monday,” he said.

While the Home Ministry and Nepal Police have yet to say if the arrests have any connection with the 33kg gold smuggling case in Kathmandu, probe leader Poudel suspects that the precious metal confiscated in Kolkata could be the same smuggled gold that has been missing.

“If they can be repatriated to Nepal and thoroughly interrogated, we can get to the truth,” he expressed his hope.

The high-level panel, despite interrogating dozens of people, has failed to locate the missing gold.

Published: 15-12-2018 14:38

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