CPN-UML Secretary Top Bahadur Rayamajhi has been arrested in Bhutanese refugee scam
Leader Rayamajhi has been absconding after the issuance of arrest warrant against him
A video claiming that Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Secretary Top Bahadur Rayamajhi has been arrested in connection with the fake Bhutanese refugee scam case is going viral on TikTok. Newschecker found the claim to be misleading as the UML leader is still on the loose.
The claim surfaces at a time when the delay in the arrest of CPN-UML leader minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, who was elected as a member of the House of Representatives from Argakhanchi, has been hogging the news headlines with his party objecting to the issuance of arrest warrants against Rayamajhi.
An arrest warrant has been issued against former energy minister and CPN-UML Secretary Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and his son Sandeep in connection with fake Bhutanese refugee scam which involved duping Nepali people with the promise of sending them to the United States as Bhutanese refugees. On June 14, 2022, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Nepal Police had launched an investigation after the victims of fraud filed a case against the racket at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority in 2021. The group had allegedly been swindling over 875 people from different places of Nepal by promising to fly them to the United States as Bhutanese refugees.
In this context, TikTok user @kulbdrbhandarikan posted a video claiming that CPN-UML leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi has been arrested. The news clip presented in a news bulletin style says, “Police have arrested the CPN-UML Secretary Top Bahadur Rayamajhi. The absconding leader was arrested from Bhairahawa after an arrest warrant was issued against him on a fraud case. Though the security personnel were preparing to arrest him on Wednesday [May 3], he had been hiding by switching his mobile phone off. He faces charges of swindling millions of rupees from Nepali people by promising them to send to the United States of America as Bhutanese refugees. Police on Wednesday arrested his son, who was also implicated on the scam. He was also about to be arrested the same day but he cancelled his air ticket upon learning that police were all set to arrest him at Bhairahawa airport. But the police have arrested Rayamajhi from Bhairahawa and brought to Kathmandu. Top Bahadur and his son were implicated in the fraudulent scheme of the racket involved in raising money from around 875 individuals by promising to send them to America. In the same case, the Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa’s security advisor Indrajit Rai and secretary at the President’s office Tek Narayan Pandey have been arrested.” Text superimposed on the video reads, “Special news breaking news. Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, who was absconding, has been arrested.” The archived link to the TikTok video can be seen here.
The video posted on May 4 has garnered 3303 likes, 68 users have shared it and 162 people have commented until the last count.
Fact Check /Verification
To check the authenticity of the claim made in the viral video, Newschecker observed the video details and noticed the logo of Artha Sarokar on the top right corner of the screen. Taking it as a clue, we searched the YouTube Channel of the online and found a detailed video report about how Rayamajhi remained incommunicado after arrest warrants were issued against Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, his son Sandeep Rayamajhi, and Prateek Thapa, son of former Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa in connection with Bhutanese refugee scam. The video report posted on 4 May didn’t mention anything related to the arrest of Rayamajhi. Rather the report details how the CPN-UML leader has been evading the police arrest.
As we couldn’t find any reports or articles confirming that Rayamajhi has been arrested, we closely listened to a video report comparing it with the audio of the viral news clip. Then, we found that the viral video’s audio from 0.37-minute exactly matched the audio of Artha Sarokar’s report from 5.23-minute onwards.
Further, we checked for the latest news regarding the status of CPN-UML leader Rayamajhi and found a news article published on Kantipur daily’s online edition. The news, published on 8 May, regarding CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli’s remarks that the government should not be selective in prosecuting and protecting when it comes to dealing with corruption. The news confirms that Rayamajhi has not been arrested until 8 May and he has been absconding since the Kathmandu District Court implicated him in the case and issued an arrest warrant.
Our findings show that Rayamajhi’s son Sandeep Rayamajhi was arrested on Wednesday but the leader has remained at large until the time of writing this article.
The news clip claiming that CPN-UML Secretary Top Bahadur Rayamajhi has been arrested is misleading as the leader is still on the run. The video is created by using a news clip from Artha Sarokar.
Result: Edited video
Artha Sarokar /YouTube, 4 May, 2023
Kantipur Daily Online, 8 May, 2023
Onlinekhabar.com/English, 4 MY, 2023
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