KATHMANDU: They had planned to escape the heat of Chhattisgarh by taking a quick vacation in the hills of Nepal. However, the holiday became a
nightmare for Indian businessman Ramesh Kumar Shah and four of his friends, all of them from Raipur, as the locals thrashing two of them and forcing the group to spend 48 hours in police custody.
Shah, his friend Ashok Kumar Yadav and three more companions – Chandrashekher Verma, Surendra Pandey and Rachit Shetty – had the misfortune to be caught in a chakka jam in Bandipur, the headquarters of Tanahun district, during the weekend after the locals blocked all main roads following a road accident.
“They were sitting in the bus they had reserved for travelling in Nepal and got bored,” the Abuhhaireni police station in Tanahun told TNN. “Shah and Yadav got out to stretch their legs. They began looking at the houses around, which have different architectural designs than Indian houses and peeped inside.”
In one of the houses, Shah saw a young lad who reminded him of his son. So he took out his mobile phone and took a couple of photographs. Within minutes, they were swarmed by angry residents who wanted to know why they were inside. As the threatened men took to their heels, they were overtaken by the mob and roughed up.
The aggression was the result of a spate of child abductions in Nepal recently with the victims in some cases being killed. Rumours that Indian gangs were lurking in Nepal’s villages to waylay children and remove their kidneys have fuelled the fear and anger resulting in a series of attacks on strangers in border villages. About a dozen have been killed, at least two of whom were set on fire.
Recently, a group of people from Maharashtra were also assaulted by Nepal villagers.
Fortunately for Shah and his companions, the locals decided to hand them over to police. With the forces busy defusing the tension over the chakka jam, for two days the five had to cool their heels at the Abukhaireni police station, sleeping on the floor and eating basic meals provided by the cops.
On Monday, finally, when it was ascertained that they were innocent tourists, they were allowed to leave. The apprehensive group however decided not to take any more chances but head back to India.
Nepal’s tourism board is aiming at getting one million tourists in 2011. However, there has been a dip in the Indian tourist, who forms the bulk of the visitors. The Raipur experience could lead to even more Indians deciding to skip traveling to Nepal.