|A thriving kidney market: In Sikharpur, eastern Nepal, a poor villager shows his scars|
When the Nepal police arrested Dr Amit Kumar in Chitwan, about 200 km from here, the officers were ecstatic. For their success had come about without India's assistance, a fact Upendra Kant Aryal, who heads the Kathmandu Valley crime branch, stressed on. Aryal had expressed his disappointment with Indian authorities for not responding to requests for details even though they were tracking the fugitive's movement in Nepal through local intelligence networks. He further declared that at least three cases would be filed against Dr Kumar on February 10—for possession of a fake passport and foreign currency beyond the legal permit, and for "luring" poor Nepali villagers to donate kidneys.
But the jubilation was thwarted when three CBI officers from India reached Kathmandu on an Indian Airlines flight on February 9. They remained ensconced in the aircraft while Asst Inspector General of Nepal Police, Hem Gurung, handed over Dr Kumar to them.
The surreptitious handing over has had a palpably demoralising effect on the Nepal police, prompting two senior officers to even lodge an official protest with Inspector General of Police Om Bikram Rana. "This was on intervention from above," Rana told the angry officials, clarifying that the order to deport Dr Kumar came from the PM himself. It's said that Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke directly to Prime Minister G.P. Koirala seeking the prompt deportation of Dr Kumar.
And the police are not the only piqued ones. A livid Surya Nath Upadhyay, a constitutional expert, told Outlook, "This is a violation of the extradition treaty between the two countries. There was enough ground for filing cases against Kumar in a Nepal court, after which he could have been handed over." Upadhyay is angry that Nepal was denied the right to file cases against a man who may be guilty of committing crimes against Nepali citizens in Nepal.
Officials say the pressure India brought to bear was unnecessary as Nepal, in the past, had clandestinely handed over Indian criminals—from militants to Bombay blasts suspect Yakub Memon. They were either whisked to an aircraft or handed over across the border and then shown to have been arrested in India.
Experts say the problem is with the decades-old Indo-Nepal extradition treaty, which needs urgent revision. The treaty was invoked only once, in the late 1960s, to extradite Succha Singh, the assassin of then Punjab CM Prakash Singh Kairon, three months after his arrest in Nepal. A foreign ministry official pleading anonymity said, "The same pattern could have been followed in the case of Dr Amit." An official at the Attorney General's office said, "He could have been extradited within a week but we were never consulted." For many, the Dr Amit Kumar case is yet another example of a hegemonic India's interference in Nepal.