Monday, August 2, 2021

To catch a thief

Image credit: macgasm.ne

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As the old saying goes, a small stump can overturn a large carriage. To contextualize it, a small, barely noticeable crime can sometimes turn into a great tragedy that will have devastating consequences for the rest of your life.

If a crime is detected at an early stage, it facilitates further investigations. With this scenario, an event began, in which I was a brother (victim) with family members as suspects, living under one roof of the house. Every day our conversation began with the traditional confirmation of friendship, - Brother, how are you?  

Quite an unacceptable phrase in the opinion of Westerners when used among strangers. Used inappropriately and untimely, such addressing tactics create ambiguity. Why is such an artificial form of convergence formed from the very first encounter? It just seems that the playing of this word radiates a hidden intention to win the friendship of which I was a victim.

With short breaks, I have been in Nepal since 2010. Work winds have blown me all over the country, from the east to the far west. Working in the field of culture, I had the opportunity to enjoy social and political peculiarities as well as the contrasting natural relief whose glorious mosaic of colors is vividly reflected in Nepali character and national costumes.

The cultural project was launched in 2010. Current pandemic has taken me away from the grand project for an indefinite period. In order to avoid and not fall as a victim to it, I have stayed in a family house in Godavari, away from the capital. Here all the events began, which in the future caused a great resonance.

When I met  this family, I explained that I was looking for a quiet place to do my journalistic work. I was offered a small apartment with an exit to the terrace from which there was a wonderful view of the valley. After a quick inspection of the apartment, I found that it is necessary to do careful cosmetics and other sideworks. We started negotiations on rent. To my question, how much, the homeowner replied, "As much as you can pay".

I was not satisfied with the vague answer. So, I came up with a proposal to renovate the apartment so that it can accommodate the tourist(s) or a small family with full service. The owner agreed to my offer and said that the rent will not be deducted.

Due to the limitations of the lockdown, the repairs dragged on for almost a whole year.

Gradually we were united by common interests - to ensure the development of tourism in the existing area.

Immediately after the completion of the repair work, the first tourists applied via social networks. The family was ready to stay for a whole month in November/December 2021.

My duty was to organize and provide proper service according to their wishes. So I started talking to tourists to find out their interests during their stay. They made it clear that they were interested in touring the area by bicycle. I immediately calculated how much it would cost and decided to buy two mountain bikes. When I found the store address, we agreed on a price and decided to go make a purchase.

I took my document folder which was always on my writing desk where there was money inside. However, when I opened it, I did not believe my eyes. There wasn't even half the amount that needed to be in. I searched the document folder again. Without finding anything else, I concluded that I have been robbed.

I do not have the Nepali behavioural tactic to turn my apartment into a walk-through space where anyone can come and go at will. The only person who had a reserved permit to stay in my apartment and no later than 7 pm was the owner's son. Consequently, all suspicions fell on him, the fourteen-year-old son.

I immediately called father and son and explained what had happened. They, too, were shocked by what had happened but it was not clear how this could be. It was decided that we should report the incident to the police (See application). After 15 minutes the police arrived and started questioning everyone. I had no idea that the guilty person was standing next to me at that moment.

However, I was guided by some intuitive suspicions. I was desperate for I didn't know what to do. The police chief said he would start questioning people in the area, as well as people who were busy repairing the apartment.

Meanwhile I decided to go look for extra-sensory help.

To make sure of a person's honesty, I said nothing more than two words - I was robbed. The procedure took about 20 minutes. A person wrapped in smoke, still in a trance state, revealed a rather gloomy scenario. The culprit is 14 years old. To the question of where the money is now, the answer was as follows, it is in the owner's house where you live. Is it being spent? No, the perpetrators are afraid of the police. Is it possible to get the money back? The culprits will return it and hand it over to you.

From that moment on, I received a double shock. Whenever I met family members, they always greeted me with a kind word - brother - which now, at one point, had turned into a flattering word.

About a week passed and, I noticed that the attitude of the owner and his son towards me had changed dramatically since the first police visit. I decided not to give up and started asking both people. As I expected, I received a rather unfriendly reaction to my question. The case went so far that none of them greeted me anymore. I was desperate because I am responsible for providing service to tourists who will arrive in November this year.

Another hopeless week passed. Once again, I decided to address the young guy with the question- Do you have anything to tell me? The guy got angry and asked harshly when I was ready to move away from the apartment. He avoided further conversation. It angered me too and I managed to add that in that case the police will talk to you.

The next day I applied for a visit to the police to tell what was going on and showed the photos taken with a hidden camera. That was a good pretext and a moment later the two suspects were taken to the police station. After a short but intense interrogation, the young guy confessed. As he testified, during my short absence, he opened a document folder and stole part of the euro banknotes and part of the Nepali rupees.

The whole scenario of the event was reflected word for word, as the magical man said, and the next day the stolen money was lying on the table at the police station.

I want this write up to serve as a guide for everyone to refrain from robbing the foreigner. After all, Nepalis are known for "Atithi Devo Bhava", aren't they?

Postscript

A word of gratitude

Through the media, I would like to thank the police for their prompt work and invite media journalit(s) to meet with the police inspector to prepare the interview for publication.

I would like to thank the Badegawn Prabhag, Lalitpur police inspector, Sujit Kumar Ojha for his work. A lightning-fast reaction in response to what is happening. Work style by questioning all suspects together and separately.

As a journalist, I had the opportunity to observe the progress of the work and see the differences compared to other countries. During the interrogation, more emphasis is placed on the psychological interaction, which is more effective and the culprit is quickly driven into the corner.  Expert in his work.

Published on 12 June 2021

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