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2 years ago in Kathmandu, Dzi bead robbery made police dizzy. Now, they’ve got a lead

For Japanese national Tenjin Shimizu, July 27, 2019, remains a day that he will never forget. Tenjin was fast asleep at his home in Tinchuli, Bauddha of Kathmandu, on a rainy night when suddenly he heard a thud. The clock showed 2 am as he got up, anxious and scared, to see what was going on.

As he left his room, he got hit on the back of his head leaving him in a minimally conscious state. When he recalls that night, he still gets shivers down his spine.

“The incident still haunts me,” Tenjin tells Onlinekhabar.

When Tenjin regained consciousness, he saw his wife Mutsumi with a knife on her neck, hands tied behind her back. Fearing that the goons would kill his wife, he pleaded with them. But, they did not let her go.

The attackers initially told Tenjin that they were cops. But, Tenjin wondered why the police would come to people’s homes at 2 am with knives in hand. Hoping it was a mistake, and they would let him go, he told them that he had just arrived from Japan.

The goons, puzzled, started to talk to one another. One clicked his photograph while another asked him for his passport to click a photo of it. They sent both the photographs to someone else.

As soon as they sent the photographs, they received a text. Maybe that was a green signal that they were at the right house, hence started to threaten the Japanese family.

These four men have been arrested by the police for further questioning.

The incident

“Do as we say or be killed,” yelled one of the goons.

Scared, Tenjin told them to take whatever they wanted and spare his and his family’s lives. He had to comply with the goons as even his sons 12-year-old Norbu Zamling Nyima and 11-year-old Jikme Om Dorjee had also been taken hostage by them along with his wife.

With Tenjin under control and willing to do anything, the goons started to raid the house as the police do. They flipped mattresses, opened all the cupboards and searched every nook and cranny of the house. The goons started to assemble all the money and jewellery the Shimizu family had.

They had every valuable thing that the family owned, but one of them asked Tenjin where the Dzi beads were. They were interested in the Dzi beads because they are extremely expensive and quite rare as they can cost up to $100,000 per bead.

Original Dzi beads can cost up to $100,000. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“I had a collection of three Dzi beads as they are meant to provide spiritual benefits. It was quite costly too, around Rs 40 million. Now when I look back, maybe that is why they came to my house,” he says.

Realising that their lives were more important than the beads, he handed them over to the goons. Along with the beads, they also took with them Rs 600,000, € 700, HK$ 2,000 and  ¥ 80,000 in cash.

When the goons were escaping, they attacked Tenjin again. And, in a bid to avoid being hurt, he jumped out of the window as he fell down and was critically injured.

Lapses in the probe

Tenjin informed the Metropolitan Police Circle, Bouddha, about the goons and what had happened in the night on phone. As he informed them that he was at Grande Hospital undergoing treatment, the police went to the hospital to record his statement. But, Tenjin does not remember what or how much information he gave to the police.

But, strangely, the report that the police have does not mention Dzi beads or them being stolen. 

“The reason why I was robbed isn’t on the report. That is why I’ve asked the police to investigate the case again,” says Tenjin.

The then chief of the Metropolitan Police Circle, Bouddha, DSP Narendra Chand, who is currently with Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu, Teku says that the investigation is ongoing.

Police believe that Jina Lama, who her accomplices claim is the mastermind, might be working for a bigger crime lord.

The arrest of the mastermind

Chand says that they had arrested Sonam Tamang, Dorje Tamang, Dinesh Karki, Ekraj Tamang, Angnima Sherpa, Indrajit Tamang and Krishna Bahadur Syangtan. The suspected mastermind of the crime, Jina Lama, has recently been arrested from a Tibetan refugee camp in Delhi. The official police statement, however, says that the lady was arrested near the Nepal-India border.

The chief of Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu, SSP Ashok Singh says that 32-year-old Lama has been charged with robbery, hostage and attempted murder and investigation has been moved forward accordingly.

According to a police source, Lama was hiding in a secret hideout in Delhi, away from the eyes of the police.

“A lot of criminals hide out at that place. The Delhi police had kept an eye on the area and when they informed us, we went to arrest her,” informs the source who wants to remain anonymous.

CCTV at the Shizimu house captures one of the goons going to break open the chain gate.

The source tells Onlinekhabar that they arrested her while she was playing carrom board. Her husband was also arrested, however, as police had no proof that he was an accomplice in the crime, he was let go.

Lama has been remanded in custody and is currently at the Central Jail in Sundhara, informs Chand.

Her accomplice in the crime, Bisur Singh Lama Tamang from Kavre is also being booked on the charge of helping Lama escape Nepal.

According to the accused, Lama had also purchased two bags where they were meant to keep the robbed items. As everyone’s finger points towards Lama, the police believe that she was the mastermind behind the robbery. All others say they acted on what Lama had asked them to do.

Lama herself has accepted that she was noting down details of the crime afar. But, the police believes that Lama might not have planned this along and is looking for the person who gave Lama the tip about Tenjin.

The police say Mingmar Tamang and Bishnu Waiba broke in from the Tenjin’s back door, after which the rest of them entered the house. As the robbery was going on, Angnima Sherpa was on a bike circling around the house.

Jina and Pradeep Lama had reserved a taxi at the getaway. One of the accused said that they took the looted items to a place in Koteshwor.

Police say that more people involved in the case are on the loose as it is still on the lookout for Sonam Sherpa and Pemba Sherpa.

Police hope that more things will come out as it continues its interrogation.

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Pokharel is an Onlinekhabar correspondent covering security and crime.

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