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Nepal ex-minister`s son held in currency, drugs racket

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 12:11

Kathmandu: The son of a powerful Nepal politician, who belonged to the ruling Communist Party, then supported deposed king Gyanendra and is alleged to have had links with the underworld in India and Pakistan, has been arrested in a covert operation by police for running a fake Indian currency and drugs racket with Pakistani accomplices.

Yunus Ansari, son of former Nepal forest minister Salim Ansari, was caught with fake Indian currency nominally worth over IRS 2.5 million and nearly 4kg of heroin, police has said.

Though the arrest was made Friday, it was kept tightly under wraps given the clout Yusuf`s father continues to enjoy despite apparently dropping out of active politics.

The news was made public after the court ordered him to be kept in judicial custody for 10 days for the investigation to be completed.

Yunus, who comes from Bara district in the Terai plains on the Indo-Nepal border, had shifted to Kathmandu Valley to run his affairs from there.

Under suspicion for a long time, Yunus was kept under surveillance by a special task force formed to nab him.

In a thriller-like tale, the chase started on New Year`s Day when the team learnt that Yunus` Nepali bodyguard Kashiram Adhikari was being dispatched to Thamel, once the hub of tourists and now being growingly targeted by criminals and sex workers, to make contact with Yunus` Pakistani agents.

Adhikari led police to the Red Planet Guest House in Thamel where in Room No. 304 Pakistani national Mohammad Sajjad was awaiting him.

The bodyguard collected a red suitcase from Sajjad and went to Room No. 204 where another Pakistani accomplice, Mohammad Iqbal, was waiting with two suitcases.

After collecting the loot, Adhikari headed for a supermarket where Yunus had rented a room.

Police caught him there and a search exposed the false bottoms in the suitcases, where the fake notes were hidden.

According to initial investigation, the racket starts from Karachi where it is headed by a Pakistani, known as Haji Talad.

The modus operandi was simple. The money would be brought to the same guest house from where Adhikari would take it to his master.

When police raided the hotel and arrested the two Pakistanis, Sajjad was found to possess 4 kg of heroin as well.

The arrest adds further credence to the suspicion about Salim Ansari`s involvement with the mafia.

Ansari won the 1994 election as a member of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, to whom Nepal`s current Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal belongs, and served as forest and soil conservation minister in the short-lived Communist government.

However, in 2002, when King Gyanendra was becoming active in behind the curtains politics, Ansari left the party to form his own Samajbadi Party Nepal.

The party supported Gyanendra during his 2005 coup and Ansari was given the same ministry once again.

In 2007, after the fall of the royal regime and following riots in the Terai, Ansari was arrested by the coalition government but thanks to his clout, was released soon afterwards.


First Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 - 12:11
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