Police have arrested two more people in connection with the Baluwatar land grab scam, taking the number of arrests in the case to sixteen.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Acharya, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police arrested Bal Krishna Shrestha and Rudra Prasad Shrestha on Tuesday evening.
Bal Krishna was a senior divisional engineer at the then Ministry of Physical Planning while Rudra Prasad was the director general at the then Department of Land Reform and Management.
Police had arrested Yog Raj Paudel and Narayan Das Mishra, the then government employees at the Land Revenue Office, on Tuesday morning.
Secretary at the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Krishna Bahadur Raut, former heads of Samarjung Company Lok Hari Ghimire and Ramesh Kumar Pokharel, Bhatbhateni Supermarket owner Min Bahadur Gurung, former election commissioner Sudheer Kumar Shah, the then survey officer Dhruba Aryal, fake tenant Dev Narayan Maharjan, Dharma Prasad Gautam and Gopal Karki have already been arrested for their alleged involvement in the scam.
The then ward secretary of Kathmandu Metropolitan City-5 Shivaji Bhattarai, fake tenant Babu Raja Maharjan and the then employee at the Department of Survey Ghaman Kumar Karki have also been arrested.
Police are currently investigating them for organized crime.
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 prime minister'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 the 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 stated.
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.