KATHMANDU, Feb 9: The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police on Sunday brought INTERPOL´s most wanted notorious rhino-horn poacher Rajkumar Praja, 33, to Kathmandu from Malaysia. The Malaysian government had deported him after he was found living their illegally.
Following a request by Nepal Police, INTERPOL on 6 Dec 2013 had issued a red corner notice against Praja, who was wanted for rhino poaching and trading rhino horns internationally. “Praja, who is currently in CIB custody, will be taken to Chitwan on Monday to face several wildlife-related charges that he was allegedly involved in the past,” CIB Director Hemanta Malla said.
Praja was on the run even after the District Court, Kathmandu in July 2013 convicted him of rhino poaching at Chitwan National Park and slapped 15 years jails and and fine of Rs 100,000 each on Praja and 12 others involved in the racket. Praja was identified as kingpin of the poaching racket only after the after the arrest of one of his close aides Buddi Bahadur Praja, who allegedly killed about seven rhinos.
Police investigation found that Praja was hiding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a changed identity of Bhaktaraj Giri. According to CIB, Praja had acquired a new citizenship certificate under the new name in Oct 2010 from Gorkha district and applied for a passport. Very shortly he had a new passport on hand and with support from Kathmandu-based recruitment agents, he flew to Malaysia. “We looked beyond our national borders and developed an international fugitive investigation strategy to nab Praja, who is suspected of killing over 30 rhinos,” DIG Malla said. According to him, Praja will face over 15 other wildlife related charges after being taken to Chitwan. The arrest of Praja is one of the important achievements for Nepal Police, according to Malla. The others convicted in 2013 and serving jail terms are Kajiman Praja, Dip Bahadur Praja, Dilmaya Praja, Sanumaya Bulun, Dil Bahadur Praja, Devi Praja, Kalpana Chepang, and Shakti Praja among others. Praja has been identified as the first Nepali against whom INTERPOL issued red notice under wildlife crimes. Earlier, a similar notice had been issued against Ian Baker, an American adventurer charged with possessing antiquities and animal hides.