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Four Indians arrested for Nepal official's abduction

In a joint operation by the police of India and Nepal, four Indians have been arrested for the abduction of a Nepali telecom official who went missing last month.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2009 14:31 IST

In a joint operation by the police of India and Nepal, four Indians have been arrested for the abduction of a Nepali telecom official who went missing last month.

Shekhar Pokhrel, a regional supervisor of the state-run Nepal Telecom, was kidnapped from Biratnagar town on the India-Nepal border on July 17 while overseeing the repair of a mobile telephone tower, police said.

The official was rescued on Thursday night from a village in India's Bihar state across the border with the cooperation of Indian police.

Pokhrel was being held in Madhepura district even though his family had already paid a ransom of nearly NRS 1.2 million.

However, the kidnappers were demanding NRS 5 million, said Pokhrel's family, who had been issuing appeals through the media and human rights organisations for his release.

Four Indians - Chandra Kishore Yadav, Rajiv Yadav, Baso Yadav and Pankaj Yadav - have been arrested in connection with the abduction, police said.

The four have been handed over to the Bihar police for further investigation.

The kidnapping underlines the nexus between the armed gangs active in Nepal's southern lowlands and criminal gangs in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh across the border.

The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), an underground organisation of former Maoists, had claimed responsibility for Pokhrel's abduction.

Some splinters of the JTMM are currently engaged in dialogue with the new government of Nepal.

According to Nepal's home ministry, there are 109 armed groups in Nepal's Terai. Most of them are criminal outfits with no political ideology and have shelters in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where they disappear when the Nepal Police begins cracking down on them.

Two of the biggest kidnap masterminds currently in Nepal's jail have strong Indian links, with one of them, Uday Shetty, being an Indian who was active in Mumbai.

Cross-border crime and security have featured in the talks Nepal's Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala had with Indian government officials during her recently concluded visit to New Delhi.

The issues are expected to be discussed in detail when Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal begins his first official visit to India on Tuesday.