Sobhraj wants to play Good Samaritan in Nepal

April 21st, 2008 - 2:12 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 21 (IANS) He has been variously portrayed as a persuasive rogue who charmed Western tourists and preyed on them, a man with nerves of steel who planned escapes from the most tightly-guarded prisons in Asia, and a serial killer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of drugs. But now, Charles Sobhraj, the “Bikini Killer” of yesteryears, wants to play a different role in Nepal, where he has been serving a jail term since 2004 for the slaying of an American backpacker.

The 64-year-old is volunteering to play Good Samaritan and sponsor the education of a Nepali teenager.

Sobhraj, who is fighting a 20-year life sentence slapped on him by Nepal’s courts for the murder of Connie Jo Bronzich, spends his time behind bars in Kathmandu’s tightly guarded central jail by devouring newspapers. He keeps himself abreast of the latest developments in Nepal that has undergone sea changes since his arrival and subsequent arrest here five years ago.

His attention was caught by a report carried by the Himalayan Times Sunday, which said a villager who supported a communist party had thrown out his two teenaged daughters for rooting for the Maoists during this month’s election.

“Saraswati Guindel (along with her sister Savitri) was kicked out from her home just because she voted for the (Maoist) party,” the report said.

The Maoists have emerged as the largest party after the election, capturing half of the 240 directly contested seats. They are poised to sweep over 30 percent of the 335 seats to be decided on the basis of proportional representation.

The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the party Saraswati’s father Govind Guindel supports, came a poor third with less than 40 seats in the direct contests.

“She made the right decision since the Maoists are the only party that can change the dark, feudal system in Nepal,” Sobhraj told IANS.

He said he admired the teen after reading in the daily that she had spurned her father’s reconciliatory gesture later and had vowed she would find a job and lead an independent life.

Sobhraj is offering to pay for the education of the rebel teen, a student at the Mahendra Ratna Campus.

“I am offering to give her NRS 3,000 (over $45) per month to cover her college expenses,” Sobhraj said.

He is ready with an initial sum of NRS 10,000 but is puzzled as how to contact the girl.

Finally, he has hit upon the idea of sending a letter to the editor of the daily, outlining his plan and asking for help to trace the girl.

Ironically, it was the Himalayan Times that first spotted him in a touristy area of the capital in 2003 and published his photograph along with his past exploits, including the allegation of having committed a double murder in Nepal in 1975.

Alerted by the report, the police caught him from a casino at midnight and charged him with Bronzich’s killing.

Sobhraj, however, says he never visited Nepal before 2003 and is now fighting the verdict in Nepal’s Supreme Court.

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