Notorious gangster Kumar Shrestha aka Kumar Ghainte has been shot dead in a gun battle at Kapurdhara, Samakhusi in Kathmandu after a gang of three open fired on a police squad during a search operation at Ranibari.
Acting on a tip-off from a special source about the possession of illegal arms by a gang in Kathmandu, a squad from the Metropolitan Police Crime Division followed the gang of six or seven who were on motorbikes and scooters, until they reached Samakhushi. Police tried to stop them but they tried to escape from the site, opening fire in the process.
According to SSP Sarbendra Khanal, chief of Metropolitan Police Crime Division, the police personnel had encountered Ghainte after the gang opened fire. “Police were compelled to open fire in self defense,” said SSP Khanal during a press briefing at MPCD, Teku.
Ghainte’s bullet-ridden body and two others injured in the crossfire were rushed to TU Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj. Soon after that, Ghainte was pronounced dead. Ghainte had sustained eight bullets in the chest and thigh.
According to police, two of Ghainte’s accomplices — Raj Maharjan, 25, and Suren Maharjan, 31– are both undergoing treatment at the hospital and are out of danger.
Following the incident, Ghainte’s relatives and leaders of the Nepali Congress, including lawmaker Jagadish Narsingh KC, had reached the hospital.
KC accused police of violating human rights during the encounter with gangster Ghainte, adding that the encounter was politically motivated as the latter had been associated with the NC of late. He claimed that police acted upon the direct orders of Home Minister Bamdev Gautam to do Ghainte in even though he had been living peacefully as an investor and entrepreneur. Ghainte, who was 38, had been living at Samakhushi, Kathmandu with his family.
“Five persons wearing masks opened fire at Ghainte when he was eating his lunch inside his own home,” KC said outside the hospital. “Police then fired shots in the air to fake an exchange of fire.” Ghainte, who was said to be in close relations with the NC, has been found sharing the rostrum with top NC leaders in recent months.
Following increasing complaints about extortion and hooliganism in the capital of late, the crime investigation division had intensified a search operation against the most notorious gangsters.
“We had received several complaints about Ghainte’s involvement in attempted murders, kidnapping, possession of illegal arms and extortion, among other things,” SSP Khanal said.
Ghainte was already facing charges of the attempted murder of Prem Gurung in 1998, vandalization of the Transport Entrepreneurs Association office in 2003, attempted murder of Kumar Malla in 2005, shooting at Bishnu Lama in 2006, assaulting Prem Lama in 2006, attacking Hanendra Singh with a sharp weapon in 2006, and shooting and seriously injuring Amit Lama in 2008.
A crowd gathered in the hospital premises to protest Ghainte’s killing. Two police sub-inspectors — Balkrishna Sanjel and Ranjit Lama — and Constable Hemanta Chand were injured in the crossfire.
Police are yet to carry out further investigations into Ghainte’s involvement in other criminal activities. Preliminary investigations show that he had invested millions in a construction company, hotels and lodges at Samakhushi and dance bars, and had been extorting from manpower companies, construction and land plotting outfits and hotel associations.
Police recovered four bullets and an Italian-made automatic pistol from the spot of the encounter.
In August 2014, another notorious gangster, Dinesh Adhikari aka Chari, was killed in a police encounter at Bhimdhunga of Kathmandu.