Each of the four face up to 20 counts of criminal charges

Judiciary: Four Indian citizens charged for the alleged kidnapping of three Bhutanese from Gelephu earlier this year will appear in the Thimphu district court today.

Officials of the Office of Attorney General said each of the four face up to 20 counts of criminal charges. One of the kidnappers was arrested on March 3, and the other three on March 6.

The kidnappers aged between 28 and 32 are all from the neighbouring state of Assam. They are alleged to have abducted three Bhutanese including a Gelephu higher secondary school class X student on the evening of February 22.

The three were kidnapped at gunpoint with the kidnappers using locally made guns while they were feeding pigs in Samtenling village in Gelephu, earlier known as Bhur. The student was the son of the piggery farm owner, Keshar Man Rai, and the other two were his driver and caretaker of the farm.

The caretaker who was 12-years old and had a permanent speech disability was released the next day. The other two returned five days after the incident following payment of ransom.

The victims told Kuensel that they were taken through forests and beaten for walking slowly on the first day. The parents received repeated calls from different Indian mobile numbers. Keshar Man Rai’s wife and her brother delivered the ransom money of Nu 2 million to the kidnappers in India and subsequently the victims were released the next day.

Police helped recover half the ransom amount from the kidnappers, Kuensel learnt.

The case was handed over to the OAG on April 8. OAG prosecutors charge-sheeted them to court on June 3.

Although the case originated in Sarpang, OAG officials said the trial is conducted in the Thimphu district court for security reasons.

In 2012, a taxi driver and another man were kidnaped from Sarpang. The hearings were also conducted in Thimphu.

The trial court sentenced five men to between three and 19 years to prison and eight others who were absent from the court to between 24 and 38 years. Of the total, 11 were from Assam.

Sarpang witnessed a series of kidnappings over the past few years. Four people were kidnapped from Norbugang on August 2014, and a driver and handy boy went missing from Shantipur, Assam the following month. A 14-year-old student was abducted from Purano Basti in Gelephu in December 2014.

Tshering Palden