Sixty-five-year old Shyam Sundar Gupta should have been busy this Wednesday posing for photos with family members, friends and relatives for the family album. Instead he was getting clicked by news photographers and posing for the police cameraman.
Gupta, a sitting MP and former minister, was preparing for his son Rakesh’s marriage to a girl from a business family in Varanasi in India at his residence in Bhairahawa, in the Indo-Nepal border, when police arrested him on Monday and brought him to Kathmandu.
He is accused of masterminding the abduction of Pawan Kumar Sanghai, a Marwari businessman, and releasing him after receiving a ransom of NRs 10 million (Rs6.25 million). Weddings are becoming costly affairs, and maybe Gupta was doing this for his son’s nuptials.
The lawmaker was involved in a similar incident 33 years ago when he tried to take another Marwari businessman on a ‘tour’ outside Kathmandu by placing him in the boot of a car. His political clout saved him from a jail term then, but this time he was not that lucky.
Gupta who is now spending nights in a cold cell in the Metropolitan Police Range is not the only Nepali lawmaker who has been in the limelight in recent months for being on the wrong side of law.
But while counterparts across the southern border are enjoying government hospitality for allegedly gulping down thousands of crores and other big achievements, the ones in Nepal are yet manage to earn such high laurels. Not that it’s something to be proud of.
Lawmakers in Nepal from the present group of 601 have been involved in crimes ranging from murder, abduction, corruption, misuse of passport (selling them for astronomical sums to be forged by gangs involved in human trafficking) and stealing electricity.
Most of them have got some sort of punishment — weeks in jail or being forced to resign their ministerial portfolios —but one among them, Balkrishna Dhungel, seems to be above the law--till now.
A year ago, the Supreme Court had upheld a 20 year jail term for Dhungel, a Maoist lawmaker, accused of murdering one Ujjwal Kumar Shrestha in 1998. However, instead of putting him behind bars, the government tried to grant him clemency.
Thankfully that move was put on hold by another Supreme Court order. But Dhungel is still free — something Gupta won’t be happy about.