Darjeeling man held in Nepal for teen’s brutal murder

June 23rd, 2009 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 23 (IANS) A 42-year-old former school teacher, who migrated to Nepal from the hill town of Darjeeling in India’s West Bengal state, was arrested for the brutal murder of a high school student that Tuesday continued to send shock waves and trigger protests throughout the Himalayan republic.
High schools remained closed countrywide while enraged students, some still in their uniform, blocked traffic in Kalimati and Kalanki, two busy commercial areas in the capital Tuesday, demanding security for students and justice for their peer, 18-year-old Khyati Shrestha, whose headless and limbless torso was found in a garbage dump in the valley Sunday.

Police arrested Biren Pradhan, who reportedly said during interrogation that he was a permanent resident of Darjeeling town and a science graduate from the famed St Joseph’s College there run by Christian missionaries.

Pradhan will be charged with the kidnap of the teen, murdering her and then cutting up her body and scattering the parts in different areas to avoid detection, police said.

The Kathmandu police told IANS that Pradhan had told them he was an Indian of Nepali origin who held an Indian ration card and other Indian IDs.

He came to Kathmandu more than 15 years ago and taught science at Adarsh Vidya Madir, one of the biggest secondary schools in Lalitpur district neighbouring Kathmandu. After an almost 14-year stint there, he quit recently, reportedly because he was planning to join his wife and two daughters in Canada.

It was a premeditated and cunningly plotted plan, police said.

Pradhan knew the victim and her family as they had been his tenants in the past. A few days before she was kidnapped, he had gone to their new residence and had a meal with them, reportedly using the opportunity to steal his photograph from the Shresthas’ family album.

To lure the teen away to his den, Pradhan compelled a former student of his, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, to call her up and feed her a cock and bull story, police said.

On June 5, Khyati received a call on her mobile telephone from the teenaged accomplice, who pretended she was calling on behalf of a well-known glossy magazine for women. The accomplice said Khyati had been chosen for an all-expenses paid trip to Pokhara city as well as a cash award and invited her to come and collect it.

The unsuspecting girl agreed to meet the caller, who took her to Pradhan’s apartment, where he chloroformed her and killed her, police said.

He then used the victim’s mobile phone to send messages to her family, asking for a ransom of NRS 1 million. To ensure a quick getaway, Pradhan asked the family to go to a town on the border of Nepal and West Bengal with the money.

However, he ran out of luck when the girl’s mother saw him in the town. Also, the domestic help who was sent to hand over the money recognised him. Pradhan’s attempt to imprison the boy failed.

Despite being recognised, the cocky man returned to Kathmandu where he was arrested.

He reportedly told police he had dropped the girl’s head, legs, arms and torso in different places to make identification impossible.

According to some reports, Pradhan was an inveterate gambler who played for high stakes at Kathmandu’s casinos. He had mounting debts and planned the murder to get quick cash.

The 16-year-old accomplice was a student of his at the Lalitpur school. She had just completed her school-leaving examination.

There has been a sharp rise in kidnappings and murders in Nepal, with students and businessmen being the prime targets.

Recently, there were protests in the capital when two men tried to kidnap a 10-year-old girl in broad daylight as she was going to school.

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