The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police has issued warrant for arrest of more than 300 persons including Nepali Congress (NC) leader Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar and former chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Deep Basnet in the Baluwatar land grab scam.
CIB Director Dhiraj Pratap Singh told Setopati that arrest warrant has also been issued in the name of the then secretary of Land Reform Ministry Chhabi Raj Panta, and former secretaries Dinesh Hari Adhikari and Narayan Gopal Malego.
"Arrest warrant has been issued in the name of over 300 accused. We are trying to arrest them," Singh stated.
Setopati has learned that the CIB is trying to take the investigation report to the district attorney's office without arresting the high-profile persons. But a CIB source claimed that it is trying to take the persons who have got arrest warrant issued in their name to the court along with the investigation report.
Shobha Kanta Dhakal and Ram Kumar Subedi dubbed the land mafia by the probe committee under former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital and Subedi's wife Madhavi Subedi are the only three persons to be arrested in the Baluwatar land grab scam.
CIAA has accused Gachchhadar of facilitating Baluwatar land grab through expansion of the the prime minister's official residence in Baluwatar as a physical infrastructure and planning minister.
Gachchhadar as physical infrastructure and planning minister had taken the proposal for expansion of the prime minister's official residence in Baluwatar to the Cabinet. He has refuted corruption allegations in the past and claimed that the proposal was taken completing due procedures.
Banset was physical infrastructure and planning secretary at that time. The constitutional anti-graft body had written to the Departemnt of Money Laundering Investigation to probe Basnet, who had succeeded Lok Man Singh Karki as CIAA chief, after Basnet was dragged in the land grab scam.
The government had formed a probe committee under former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital following complaints that government land at Baluwatar has been transferred to some individuals. The committee had submitted the report to the government in December 2018 concluding that the land transferred to individuals belonged to the government.
The committee stated that the then king Mahendra after the coup in 1951 had confiscated 14 ropanis land of Nepali Congress leader Suvarna Shumsher Rana and his son Kanchan Shumsher in Baluwatar.
The government four years later acquired 285 ropanis of Rana's land in Baluwatar by paying compensation. The PM's residence, chief justice's residence, speaker's residence and the central office of Nepal Rastra Bank are currently situated in 172 ropanis out of that 285 ropanis.
Land mafia in connivance with staffers at the Land Revenue Office has transferred ownership of the remaining 113 ropanis of land to different individuals, the committee has concluded.
CPN-UML leader and former finance minister Bishnu Paudel was also dragged into the controversy as eight annas out of the 113 ropanis has been transferred in the name of his son Navin.
But Paudel and Supreme Court (SC) Justice Kumar Regmi have not been charged in the scam after they agreed to return the land in the name of Paudel's son Navin and Regmi respectively.
"It does not seem necessary to make them defendants as they have agreed to return the land plots inside Lalita Niwas camp to the Nepal Government in their statement to the investigation officer and the application filed with the CIAA," the CIAA charge sheet states.
Regmi has claimed that he received the land for handling a case while working as advocate while Paudel has claimed that he bought the land.