“High Profile” Arrests in Fake Bhutanese Refugee Scam

Pressure on authorities not to sweep matter under the rug

Pratikshya Khanal
Read Time = 4 mins

"High-profile" people connected to the fake Bhutanese refugee case have started to get arrested.

More than 100 victims of the scam have filed complaints with the police, which initiated the investigation into this case. They lodged complaints, noting the middlemen or fraudsters had fleeced over Rs 230 million from them at different times, giving them false hope to send them to the United States.

Earlier, the security advisor of the then Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal', Indra Rai, and the current Secretary to the Government, Teknarayan Pandey, were also arrested by the police. Recently, former Home Minister Balkrishna Khand has also been detained. Along with Khand, his private secretary, Narendra KC, has also been arrested.

According to a top police source, Khand was arrested on the basis of the statements of the accused and evidence collected that indicated his key role in the case of fake Bhutanese refugees. According to the source, reports and documents that were forged when Khand was home minister and evidence of money transactions between him and his close friends came to light, and in the latest statement, Home Secretary Pandey admitted Khand's involvement in the case.

Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, the UML secretary who is also implicated in the case, has been on the run since the police issued an arrest warrant for him. Rayamajhi's residence was also searched by authorities on Tuesday. UML has suspended Rayamajhi in reference to the case.

According to a preliminary inquiry by the police, Rayamajhi is one of the major planners of the conspiracy to pose as Nepalese nationals as Bhutanese refugees. This was verified by the gang members who are currently in detention.

Previously, the police and home administration were accused of protecting the major players. After the series of arrests of major leaders and administrators engaged in the refugee situation, the police administration has been commended. There is now widespread pressure to apprehend all those implicated, including UML leader Rayamajhi.

Whereas the Nepali Congress is in  wait and watch mode as the party has not taken any action against Khand. Congress leader Dr. Mahat informed that Congress will not rush as the investigation is currently underway.

Prime Minister Dahal has also pledged that there would be no obstruction in the investigation and that there is a consensus among the top leaders to support the authorities working on the case.

The United Nations refugee agency, the UN High Commission for Refugees, has expressed grave concern about the recently exposed fake Bhutanese refugee scam.

While the agency welcomes the government probe, it has also confirmed that its initiative to relocate Bhutanese refugees to other countries in Europe and the United States ended on December 31, 2016, and there are no plans to restart it.

According to authorities, several people first reached the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office, claiming that they had been scammed by a "gang" that converted Nepali nationals into Bhutanese refugees and shipped them to America.

Several people from diverse backgrounds across the country who claimed to have been scammed filed complaints, naming everyone involved.

"Initially, they came here and filed a complaint about being cheated," says Somendra Singh Rathore, spokesperson for the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office. " Students and housewives are also among those who have filed complaints." "Based on the received information, we started the investigation." Then the complaints filed by the victims, together with the required investigation documents, were forwarded to the Kathmandu District Police Range, Teku, for further action.

More people filed complaints after the case was forwarded to Kathmandu District Police Range.

The 'network' was then investigated by the police. The research indicated that current and previous top officials were participating in the scam.

The inquiry has shown that the group that promised them to take them to the United States by posing as refugees had frequently collected money from a number of people. They even forged refugee identity cards.

The initial investigation revealed that together with the Home Ministry officials and high political leadership, they raised funds to take "missing" refugees to the US for resettlement in third countries.

A task force has also been created for this purpose, and plans have been made to add names of Nepali nationals posed as refugees to the list of reports generated by the task force and resettle them.

However, such missing refugees were not identified and the specifics of the scam were revealed when the money was not refunded to the victims.

According to officials, if found guilty by the court, the accused may be prosecuted under fraud and organized crime.

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