While Indian kidney racket kingpin Amit Kumar was arrested by Nepal Police in a dramatic swoop last week from a holiday resort in the southern plains, did his brother and accomplice Jeevan Kumar manage to give the posse the slip just minutes before?
A Nepali daily on Tuesday said that a petty trader from Chitwan was claiming he gave a lift to the fugitive brother without knowing who Jeevan was. Chitwan is the picturesque town where Amit Kumar was arrested on Thursday after his illegal kidney factory in Gurgaon near New Delhi came to light and Interpol sounded a red alert.
Ramesh Regmi, a Nepali who operates a boat in the prime tourist district, is claiming that even as police raided Hotel Wildlife in Chitwan, where Amit Kumar had holed up after fleeing Kathmandu, a frantic looking man came up to him and begged him for a lift on his motorcycle.
"I gave him a lift till Narayangarh as I was myself going to the VAT (value added tax) office," the Himalayan Times daily quoted Regmi as saying.
Narayangarh is about 100 km west of Kathmandu. Major highways to the capital can be accessed from it.
Regmi said: "I thought he was a hotel guest who had a problem. How was I to know that he was an accomplice in the same racket?"
The Good Samaritan said he learnt about the identity of the man he had helped only after he saw the photographs being shown by the police team.
The claim adds credence to earlier speculation that Jeevan and Amit Kumar had fled to Kathmandu and were hiding together in the posh hotels of the capital till Indian and Nepali media raised the alarm that they could be holed up in the Himalayan nation.
The dismayed brothers checked out of the upmarket Radisson Hotel and headed for Chitwan on the Indo-Nepal border by road, planning to slip out of Nepal and seek a safer shelter in India.
Now other hotel employees in Chitwan are also claiming that it was Jeevan, using the pseudonym Manish Singh, who accompanied Amit Kumar to Hotel Wildlife and took care of the formalities while the kidney king remained out of sight.
They say they identified him later on the basis of the photographs shown by the police and now posted on the Internet.
Jeevan, who took care of patients after kidney transplants in his brother's Star Max Care Hospital in Gurgaon had been a frequent visitor to Nepal.
The brothers had planned to shift their business to Nepal, fearing the Indian authorities would shut them down.
Jeevan had been given the task of finding a suitable building or plot of land and had engaged a broker, Pankaj Jha.
Chitwan's hotel staff say Jeevan spoke fluent Nepali and did all the work, including changing money at the foreign exchange counters and ordering food.
Amit Kumar, whose photograph had been carried by major newspapers television stations in India, tried to keep out of sight and donned a hat, dark glasses and a muffler to hide his face.
Nepal Police, forced to hand over Amit Kumar to India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the order of prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala himself, are still looking for Jeevan and Amit Kumar's other accomplices, including Nepali aides.
However, with Amit Kumar's arbitrary handover in violation of Nepali laws, Nepal Police are demoralised and it remains to be seen if the hunt for the missing brother will be successful.