Sobhraj’s fiancée haunted by kidnap, torture threats

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : Catapulted into headlines worldwide after the news of her engagement to criminal mastermind Charles Sobhraj became public, Nepali girl Nihita Biswas is now facing the flipside of her controversial romance.

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The 20-year-old is receiving threats that she will be kidnapped and tortured if she doesn’t call off her engagement to the 64-year-old and continues to visit him in Kathmandu’s Central Jail, where Sobhraj is serving a 20-year jail term for the murder of an American tourist.

Nihita’s mother Shakuntala Thapa, who is also defending Sobhraj in Nepal’s Supreme Court, has begun meeting police and prison authorities to apprise them of the threats to her daughter. The family thinks the threats could be from some of the prisoners, who either have some enmity with Sobhraj or are trying to extort money from him.

Nihita received the first threat five days ago, when someone sent a message to her on her mobile phone. “There could be other ways to get famous,” the enigmatic message from an unfamiliar number said. “You are not famous. In fact, you are infamous. You know the meaning of infamous?”

The next day, the second message from the same number arrived. “I don’t know you,” it said. “I am spending Re.1 that is not given by criminals. Don’t try to fool me. You are going to be caught badly. So sad to say but be ready to face the storm.”

The third warning was more dire. A visitor was leaving the prison after having met Sobhraj when he was accosted by a young man and a woman in her 30s, people he had earlier seen visiting a prisoner in the same jail.

“We know all about Sobhraj’s illegal deeds,” the two told the visitor. “Unless he pays us, we will kidnap the girl and torture her. So tell him to pay up.”

The two claimed they were from the Young Communist League (YCL), the dreaded strong arm of the Maoists. But when Nihita’s mother contacted the YCL, they denied having any hand in the matter.

The fourth incident occurred last week, when Nihita was going to the prison to meet Sobhraj.

“As I came out of the taxi, a group of young men loitering outside the prison gate started striding towards me and tried to encircle me,” she told IANS. “They hadn’t seen my mother, who was accompanying me that day. Mom jumped out of the taxi and began yelling at the men. Seeing her, they quickly dispersed.”

With the winter-spring romance becoming the talk of Nepal as well as beyond, it has also created resentment among some of the prisoners.

Last week, a prisoner who is now working as a guard inside warned Nihita not to bring food for Sobhraj any more. She had acquired the habit of packing lunch for him which she would share with him in the visitors’ room in the prison.

“If you don’t stop bringing him food, I will not allow you to meet Sobhraj any more,” the prisoner reportedly told Nihita.

The high school student says she doesn’t go anywhere alone any more and has cut down her visits to the prison. However, she says she will be present in the Supreme Court on Aug 10, when Sobhraj’s case is scheduled to come up for hearing.

Sobhraj was arrested from a Kathmandu casino in 2003 and charged with the murder of American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich in 1975. The district court found him guilty and slapped a 20-year term on him. Sobhraj appealed against the verdict but lost.

Now, continuing to say that he was framed by police and is innocent, he is fighting his final appeal in Supreme Court. The case is expected to be settled this year.