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Indian millionaire attacked in Nepal

Ratanlal Agrawal was attacked by a gang after he refused to listen to their extortion demand.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 12:56 IST

A millionaire businessman of Indian origin was injured in a southern Nepal town on Friday morning when bombs were thrown on him, triggering panic in the business community as the incident comes after several similar attacks in the area.

Industrialist Ratanlal Agrawal, whose forefathers were from the Marwadi community of India known for their business acumen, was attacked near his residence in Birgunj town, the hub of commercial activity in Nepal close to the Indian border.

Agrawal, whose businesses include a pharmaceutical company in Kathmandu, a plastic industry and an insurance company, was getting into his car when a group of people riding motorcycles rushed towards him and threw bombs.

The industrialist was hit by shrapnel from the bombs and was rushed to Kathmandu for treatment.

He was being threatened over the phone for some time after he refused to listen to an extortion demand, business sources said.

"This is the second attack on industrialists in Birgunj in almost a month," said Rajendra Khetan, vice-president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries.

"It shows the government has still not taken the issue seriously."

Last month, another industrialist of Indian origin, Ramesh Kedia, was shot in broad daylight after he too refused to give in to extortion bids.

In February, LP Jain, general manager of Indian joint venture Ganga Udyog Ltd, was wounded in the leg in the same town.

An Indian gang headed by Chhote Lal Sahani, which fled Bihar after a new government began cracking down on criminals there, has begun operating in Birgunj, taking advantage of the political instability in the country.

While Sahani's gang is the prime suspect, other gangs from Bihar as well as Nepal are also said to be getting active in southern Nepal, often operating with impunity from the forests in the no man's land between the two countries.

Khetan said he had asked Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula's office to urgently look into the attack on Agrawal.

Earlier this year, the Indian government had given a stiff note to the then government of King Gyanendra, asking for action against the gangs in Birgunj.