The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, India, has arrested two Nepalis with 33 kilograms of undeclared gold from West Bengal, which Nepali authorities said could be the precious metal that had disappeared mysteriously.
The DRI said, “On the basis of specific intelligence, its officers intercepted a Maruti Swift VXI car with two occupants — Nepali citizens Rakesh Prasad and Hem Prasad Sharma — at Dankuni Toll Plaza along the Delhi-Kolkata Highway on December 12.” While searching the car, 33 pieces of gold bars weighing one kg each were found. The gold bars were concealed in a false compartment behind the dash board and inside a cavity of the vehicle’s gearbox.
The DRI said the gold bars were of foreign origin. Indian officials also confiscated INR 54,760 from one of them. This seizure has led Nepali authorities to suspect that gold intercepted by the Indian DRI officials could be the consignment of the ‘lost’ gold allegedly smuggled by the racket of Chudamani Upreti aka Gorey.
A special probe panel formed to investigate the March 2 murder of Sanam Shakya and the disappearance of 33 kg smuggled gold has so far been unsuccessful in finding the whereabouts of the ‘lost’ yellow metal. The panel led by Ishwar Raj Paudel, joint secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, which conducted the investigation for four months and submitted its report on August 1 had failed to delve into the status of the gold. The disappearance of the gold was the main reason for Shakya’s murder.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the gold seized by Indian authorities could be the consignment of the 33 kg precious metal that disappeared from Nepal. It cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence,” Joint Secretary Paudel, who is currently working at the Department of Immigration as it director general, told THT.
He reasoned that Rakesh Prasad and Hem Prasad hailed from Sunsari district where Shakya was electrocuted to death by Gorey’s gang. “The district was where the gold smuggled to Nepal from Dubai had disappeared. Indian authorities arrested the duo in West Bengal, where we apprehended Gorey. More so, the 712-page report which we submitted to the government has categorically mentioned the names of Rakesh Prasad and Hem Prasad as suspects among 292 persons, who were at large and needed to be dragged into investigation,” Paudel said.
He also claimed that the gold bars intercepted in India could not be fresh consignment smuggled through Tribhuvan International Airport as the government had already dismantled the organised smuggling racket functioning in collusion with police, immigration officials and airlines employees. “It is impossible for anyone to pass such an amount of gold through TIA at this point because we have already dealt a serious blow to organised racketeers.” he said.
Paudel informed that this issue would be discussed at the home ministry level to ascertain whether the consignment seized by Indian authorities had any connection with the disappeared gold. “The ministry may revive the investigation panel to liaise and coordinate with the Indian authorities to establish the fact and initiate further action,” he said.