October 6: The Morang District Court on Tuesday sentenced six people, including the main accused Chudamani Upreti aka Gore, to life imprisonment on charges of smuggling 33 kg of gold and killing Sanam Shakya of Urlabari.
District Court Judge Bharat Lamsal issued the verdict following the final hearing on the case. The court sentenced the six persons to life imprisonment, while one was slapped a jail-term of three years, and another person involved in the scam for six months.
The court sentenced Gore, Tekraj Malla Thakuri, Lakpa Sherpa, Mohan Kafle, Narendra Karki, and Bhojraj Bhandari to life imprisonment, said the court’s record keeper Tikendra Birjung Rana. He further informed that Rajan Kumar and Madan Prasad Ghimire were sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
Morang Police had filed charge sheets against 77 people at the District Court, Morang on April 3, 2017, on charges of setting up and operating a criminal gang, trading gold illegally, involving in abduction, hostage-taking, and killing.
Of the total defendants, 21 are still absconding. Rana said that the bench had adjourned the case in the name of the absconding people.
The mastermind behind the gold scam is believed to be Chudamani Upreti aka Gore of Ulrabari, Morang, although high-profile police officers are also suspected to be involved in the scam. However, the police officers suspected of being involved in the case have been cleared due to lack of sufficient evidence to prove their guilt.
Former AIG Govinda Prasad Niraula, SSP Dibesh Lohani (now DIG), Shyam Bahadur Khatri, and Superintendent of Police (SP) Bikas Raj Khanal are among the police officers who were cleared by the court. Similarly, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Sanjay Raut, Prajit KC, Sub Inspector of Police (SI) Bal Krishna Sanjel, Head Constable Amar Bahadur Thapa Magar, and police constable Bishnu Khadka have also been cleared.
Shakya was killed on March 3, 2017, after the gold smuggled from Dubai by Gore’s group disappeared. A video of Gore's direct involvement in the murder of gold smuggler Shakya was also made public by the police.
Police had recovered Shakya’s body from a vehicle (Ba 12 Cha 5963) in Biratnagar. At that time, Mohan Kafle, Tekraj Malla Thakuri, Narendra Karki, and Krishna were arrested. While investigating the case, the police were told that the group had smuggled 38 quintals of gold on different dates.