KATHMANDU, July 8: The police on Thursday said Dr Bhaktaman Shrestha, the executive director of BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital (BKMCH), was abducted by a gang led by Bhimsen Pandit, a consummate criminal.
To substantiate the findings of their investigation, the police made public three alleged kidnappers of the gang that comprised seven persons playing different roles.
Pandit, the mastermind, is still at large together with his chief aide Rohit Palilal Agrawal.
Both Pandit and Agrawal were arrested and prosecuted by Nepal Police on various kidnapping cases some three years ago. They, however, were released on bail by the Kathmandu District Court after nine months in judicial custody. It has been learnt that both of them have a date for the same trail in the court on July 14.
The police report also rubbished all hearsay about the place he was taken hostage and even challenged the doctor´s account, saying he was mostly held captive in the capital. He was kept in Nuwakot on the first day of abduction and then shifted to the capital.
Investigative officials say they succeeded to identify the gang through technical cues and a meticulous study of the Modes Operandi (MO) the Pandit´s group employed to commit crimes.
The three arrested include Badri Prasad Dhungana, 27, of Jiling VDC in Nuwakot district, Sunil Shrestha, 37, of Maharajgunj in Kathmandu, and Nabin Chhetri, 27, from Darjeeling in India.
According to the police report, Dhungana basically collected information and identified targets. He had reportedly worked for a doctor at the hospital as a personal driver for one-and-a-half years till November, 2009. Shrestha was involved in making arrangements for captivity in the capital while Chhetri kept guard of the hostage.
Besides Pandit and Agrawal, two other alleged kidnappers, who have been absconding, are Luppa Tamang, 24, of Charghare in Nuwakot and Gautam Yonjan, 31, of Chandol in Kathmandu. Pandit is also from Charghare in Nuwakot and had abetted Tamang in previous kidnapping cases.
According to the report, Dhungana had been working out on the possible kidnapping target for five months and simultaneously consulting Pandit and Agrawal who would frequent there from Kathmandu and India respectively. They finally settled for Dr Shrestha as a lucrative option discarding two others -- Dr Bijaya Kumar Thakur and Dr Bal Krishna Thapa.
Pandit, Tamang and Chhetri from Kathmandu, Dhungana from Nuwakot and Agrawal from India simultaneously arrived in Narayanghat on May 18. Agrawal had arrived on a Silver Alto with an Indian number plate. They started following Dr Shrestha in the evening and finally took hold of him at around 10:15 PM applying their “car-collision method”.
Dr Shrestha was taken along the Prithivi Highway up to Baireni in Dhading and then driven on a motorbike to Nuwakot. That night he was kept at Pandit´s home at Charghare, Nuwakot. The kidnappers managed to throw the doctor´s car in Pokhara and briefcase at Darechwok in Chitwan in the night.
On the night of May 19, Dr Shrestha was dramatically shifted to a flat at Samkhusi rented by Pandit and kept there for seven days. For the remaining days, he was held at a rented house at Chandol that was arranged by the alleged kidnapper Sunil Shrestha.
Agrawal went to India on May 19 and started bargaining the ransom with the victim´s family using internet and bypass calls. The family had handed over 3.5 kilograms of gold as a ransom to an unidentified kidnapper in Kanpur in India three days before his release.
For his release at Majhimtar in Dhading in the early morning of June 5, Dr Shrestha was lifted from Chandol and driven on a motorbike to Nuwakot and, using the Galchhi road, taken out to Dhading. The kidnappers had left him blindfolded.
Police said that there were two kidnapping cases, a murder attempt charge, a count of illegal arm and ammunition possession and a case of smuggling vehicles against Pandit and Agrawal before the doctor´s kidnapping.
The police investigation team that uncovered the criminal gang included SSP Devendra Subedi, SSP Shiva Lamichhane, Inspector Krishna Koirala and Sub-inspector Dipendra Adhikari.