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Nepal border towns rejoice at Indian ganglord’s death

By Sudeshna Sarkar, Indo-Asian News Service

Kathmandu: Indian ganglord Chhote Lal Sahani’s dramatic death in an Indian court is being greeted with joy in neigbouring Nepal’s border towns, with businessmen distributing sweets to celebrate the end of one of their prime foes.

Hours after Sahani, who was behind bars in Bihar’s Motihari jail, was gunned down in court Wednesday morning, the news spread like wildfire in Nepal’s border town Birgunj that had borne the brunt of Sahani’s attacks.

Nepal’s state media began flashing the news from Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday, it was widely reported in the local media.

For three years, the Indian had been extorting businessmen and the affluent in Birgunj, especially the Marwari community. Sahani’s men had even attacked people in broad daylight for refusing to pay up. A Birgunj businessman, who had been receiving threatening calls for about a month, was last week allegedly shot by Sahani’s men.

Though Sahani was arrested and kept in solitary confinement in Motihari prison a year ago, he is believed to have continued giving directions to his lieutenants through mobile phones.

A man who called himself Sanju Baba and claimed to be the jailed don’s right hand had kept up the extortion racket in Birgunj.

Sahani is wanted in at least two Nepal districts – Bara and Parsa – for a murder and an abduction case.

Three years ago, his gang is said to have collected over Rs.10 million from the family of Marwari businessman Ghanshyam Chachan, who is said to have been abducted and detained in a border town in India.

The next year, Sahani’s gang is said to have tried to abduct a member of Nepal’s well-known business family, the Kedia Group, from Bihar’s Raxaul rail station. Though the plan failed, threats to the scion continued and a year later, the quarry came under a bomb attack in Birgunj.

A spate of attacks followed the two highly publicised operations, creating panic in Birgunj. The fear psychosis made people reluctant to disclose telephone numbers and wary about receiving phone calls from unknown numbers.

With Sahani’s death, Nepal’s business community heaved a collective sigh of relief. People were distributing sweets to celebrate, the local media said.

“His henchmen will try to keep up the racket,” said an official on condition of anonymity. “But their clout will undoubtedly lessen now that Sahani is dead.”