22-28 August 2014 #721

Fake encounter

Shital Tuladhar in Himal Khabarpatrika, 17 August

On 30 August 2011, Shital Tuladhar (pictured) was shot in a police encounter at Thamel’s Sailung Guest House and was assumed dead. He lived and now claims he was framed. His story:

I come from a well-to-do family, we own a hotel in Dharan’s Putali Lane. Six years ago I went to Singapore for holiday and stayed with a friend from Chitwan, Govinda Bahadur Karki Chhetri. He had married a local girl there and was now known as Eric.

We decided to invest in a business: it would start as a restaurant and later become a hotel. He guaranteed to use his connections to get me a permanent residency visa, I was tempted and borrowed Rs 5 million from three people. But six months later my tourist visa ran out and I had to return home. Eric showed no signs of hurrying for my PR, and didn’t even pick up my calls.

Later I learnt from another friend in Singapore that he was in Nepal to take part in the mourning rituals after his father’s death. I called him. On 20 August, he called me back and told me to meet him in Baneswor on the 29th. He was waiting with his brother and four other friends when I went there.

Then we went to Thamel, where I had a shop. He told me he would return Rs 3.5 million the next day. The others went away while he stayed with me. The next day, Eric’s brother called to ask where I wanted the money delivered. We were in Sailung Guest House at the time. Eric said he had a headache, so he suggested going to the room to rest. He was on the phone talking to someone who, I could hear, was talking about money and location.

We were watching tv when the door was kicked open and a group of seven or eight people entered the room. One of them fired at me. I was hit below my chin on the spine and fell. I was still conscious and could make out the shooters were policemen in civvies led by a sub-inspector. They were going to shoot me again as I lay bleeding on the floor, but thinking I was dead, left me alone.

They tied up Eric and punched him until he looked like he had been roughed up by a kidnapper. They dragged him out and then broke bottles in the room and even smashed the windows.  I could hear a policeman talking into a walkie-talkie: “The kidnapper is dead, we’ve rescued the captive.” Later I was taken to a morgue by a policeman in uniform. The doctors found out I was still alive but bleeding heavily. I lived, but am now a paraplegic.

The police charged me with kidnapping and possession of illegal weapons. The newspapers gave their version: that police fired back in self-defence. The name of the policeman who shot me is Mata Pratap Thapa.

The Kathmandu District Court jailed me for nine years. Two innocent boys, framed by the police, who happened to be in the hotel, are still in jail. While I am making the rounds at the appellate courts, Eric, who planned all this, is in Singapore, running a Korean restaurant in Bugis, Victoria Street.