Nepal offers reward for fugitive Indian’s arrest


Kathmandu : Nepal has announced a reward for the capture of an Indian who is suspected of being the kingpin in a drug network and who staged an audacious escape from the capital's police station.

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Mohammad Ashraf Alam, whose driving licence proclaimed him to be a resident of West Champaran district in Bihar, had been detained in the Hanumandhoka police station for nearly two months. But he gave his captors the slip this week after bribing a policeman on guard duty.

Nepal's Narcotic Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit told IANS that Alam and two of his associates were caught red-handed in Chobar on the outskirts of the capital March 25.

Alam, another Indian, Jamir Miyan, and a Nepali, Sujan Hankar Bishwokarma, were arrested with 108 gm of brown sugar.

According to the drug law in Nepal, anyone found in possession of over 100 gm of narcotics can be punished with a fine of maximum Nepali Rs.2 million or a jail term of up to 20 years or both.

Law enforcement officials said they had information that the 32-year-old Alam had been smuggling heroin from India via Raxaul to Nepal for over a decade. Other members of his family, including his younger and elder brothers, are also involved in the racket, officials said.

After his arrest, Alam was confined in the Hanumandhoka police station while investigations were being completed. But he had not been formally charged in court.

On Wednesday, Alam persuaded the policeman on guard duty, identified as Birbal Yadav, to produce a forged letter saying he was wanted for questioning.

Yadav handcuffed Alam, brought him out of his cell and took him downstairs where the pair hid themselves. Yadav removed the handcuffs as well as his own police uniform and both fled the coop.

Nepal's government Thursday night announced a reward of Rs.50,000 for Alam's capture.

The Indian is also said to be wanted in a case of fake citizenship documents. Police said he acquired Nepali citizenship a few months ago from Parsa district near the Indian border, giving his name as Ashraf Thakurai.

Once a haven for marijuana-smoking hippies, Nepal's drug profile has vastly changed of late. Now it has become a new market for low-grade heroin manufactured in India and smuggled across the open border.

The Raxaul-Birgunj point sees the bulk of the drug trade, causing Nepal to set up a drug law enforcement unit in Birgunj.