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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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Another Marwari kidnapped in Kathmandu
Mar 18, 2007 - 4:48:38 PM
'The demand for money came after the Maoists signed a peace pact with the government and the government agreed to pay for the upkeep of their soldiers,' a businessman said on condition of anonymity.

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[RxPG] Kathmandu, March 18 - Panic has gripped Kathmandu's Marwari community as a yet another businessman belonging to it has been abducted from the capital, taking the number of kidnappings in three months to at least 35.

Manoj Rathi, the son of a former chief engineer in the Nepal government's road construction department and a prominent Lions' Club member Satyanarayan Rathi, was forcibly taken away along with his car from near his residence in the capital Friday.

His abductors smashed the windows when Rathi tried to lock the doors, wrenched open the doors and got in. They then forced the businessman to drive up to a busy hospital in another area where they made him leave the car and get into another vehicle.

On Saturday, Rathi's family received a call from the kidnappers, asking for ransom and warning them not to go to police.

Members of the community said there were reports of two more kidnap attempts in the capital last week. But in both cases, the victims managed to escape.

Traders say only one industry has been flourishing in the capital and that is the kidnapping industry targeting Marwaris, who are originally from India's Rajasthan state.

After a couple of initial reports to police, victims' families now prefer to quietly negotiate with the abductors, pay the sum and get their kin released unharmed. Taking advantage of their preference for silence, the gangs have been preying with impunity.

The local media has been ignoring the spate of abductions and, consequently, Marwaris say there is no pressure on the government to act.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala himself admitted at a public function here Saturday that the law and order situation had deteriorated.

Though he pledged that the situation would improve once an interim government was formed, traders taking it with a pinch of salt.

Last month, about 80 small traders from Teku and Bhotebahal area of the capital were asked to pay NRs.100,000 each by the Maoists, who said they were raising funds to organise their chief Prachanda's first public address in the capital and had missed out that pocket.

Though the traders negotiated and brought down the sum to NRs.100,000 collectively, it has left them deeply sceptical about the administration.

'The demand for money came after the Maoists signed a peace pact with the government and the government agreed to pay for the upkeep of their soldiers,' a businessman said on condition of anonymity.

'So the Maoists were making an illegal demand. When we asked them what would happen if we refused to pay, they remained silent. One of them told us, you can call anyone you want - the home minister, police, the lot. We'll wait here for their arrival.'

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