Top Nepal politician’s kin caught with fake Indian currency

June 28th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 28 (IANS) The nephew of a top Nepali politician was caught with fake Indian currency in the southern district of Chitwan district, underlining again the nexus between crime gangs and politicians in Nepal. Police said Jitendra Wagle, nephew of Chiranjibi Wagle, a former minister and deputy chief of the Nepali Congress (NC), was handed over to them by Maoist cadres Friday with a cache of fake Indian currency worth Nepali Rs.125,000 ($2,000), all of it in Rs.500 notes.

Along with Jitendra, who is a local businessman in Chitwan near the India-Nepal border, a second accomplice was also handed over to the police while a third is absconding.

The accomplice is Badri Arryal, a petty trader in the district. Binod Regmi, who the Maoists claim is a local leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, could have fled to India.

Jitendra’s uncle Chiranjibi, once the powerful minister for physical planning and works during his party’s rule, was convicted of corruption almost four years ago and slapped with a two-and-a-half year jail term as well as a stiff fine.

However, the former minister was rehabilitated by the Nepali Congress and allowed to return to its fold, one of the factors that caused Koirala to suffer a stunning defeat in the April election.

On Friday, Maoist cadres paraded Jitendra and Arryal in public along with the fake currency. Jitendra and his accomplice face up to five years in prison and a fine.

Jitendra reportedly told the police that he had already floated fake Indian currency notes worth about Rs.200,000 in Chiwan.

According to his preliminary confession, he bought the notes from the Naya Bazar area of Kathmandu. Some of the fake currency was hoarded in a tea shop, which was raided by the police. Notes worth about Rs.60,000 were seized.

Jitendra was running his counterfeit racket under the guise of operating a rice mill in Chitwan. Police are investigating his links with criminal gangs as well as the source that supplied the counterfeit currency.

In the past, a powerful Nepali lawmaker, Mitrza Dilshad Beg, was reported to be associated with counterfeit Indian currency rackets and arms running and was linked to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s group. Beg was gunned down in Kathmandu by a rival gang. His killers were never arrested.

During the 14-month absolute rule imposed by deposed king Gyanendra, three ministers in the royal cabinet were alleged to have given protection to a racket involving smuggling of fertiliser from India.

The smuggling was said to have been facilitated by senior police officials. But it was swept under the carpet without any investigation, let alone action taken against the ministers.

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