Police have begun the second phase of investigation against alleged mastermind Sanu Bhandari, Keshav Dulal and Ram Sharan KC in connection with the fake Bhutanese refugees scam.
Eighteen more victims of the scam lodged complaints against the three earlier this month. They have stated in the complaints that the three had taken Rs 18.50 million from them with the promise of sending them abroad as Bhutanese refugees.
Police proceeded with additional investigation after the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office received the complaints and sent them to the District Police Range, Kathmandu, for further action.
According to a high-ranking police officer involved in the investigation, they have recorded the statements of four of the 18 complainants.
“We have already recorded the statements of three from Kathmandu and one from Sankhuwasabha, we’ll soon record the statements of the rest too,” the officer said.
While giving statements to the police, the complainants submitted bank deposit slips as evidence that they had given money to the three accused. The police officer said that they are verifying the evidence.
After recording the statements of the 18 complainants, police will again record the statements of the individuals who have been named by the complainants. However, the accused will only be questioned based on the complainants’ statements this time, said the officer.
According to the officer, the new complaints mention only the names of the people who have already been arrested.
Earlier, police had arrested 20 individuals in connection with the scam on the basis of complaints filed by 123 victims. Eighteen of them including former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and former home minister Bal Krishna Khand have been remanded to custody, while two others have been released.
As the government has transferred police officers involved in investigation of the scam, many are skeptical that police will conduct investigation on the new complaints as they did before.
On August 21, the Home Ministry transferred SSP at the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office Manoj KC, and chief of Kathmandu Police SSP Dan Bahadur Karki to the Nepal Police Headquarters, according to Nepal Police Spokesperson DIG Kuber Kadayat.
The Cabinet meeting on August 18 had also transferred chief of the Kathmandu Valley Police Office (Metro) at Ranipokhari AIG Shyam Gyawali, who was also actively involved in investigation of the scam, to the Nepal Police Headquarters just four and a half months after he was posted at Ranipokhari.