Indian gets 39-year jail for slaying Nepali schoolgirl

Indian gets 39-year jail for slaying Nepali schoolgirl

Biren Pradhan, who also used the surname Shrestha, became one of the most reviled undertrials in Nepal last year after police arrested him for the abduction and killing of bright and vivacious teen Khyati Shrestha, an incident that shocked the nation for its brutality and triggered a series of protests by schools and students.

Pradhan, who came to Nepal from India’s Darjeeling town almost two decades ago and had worked as a science teacher in a school in Kathmandu valley, coerced a teenaged girl student of the same school into helping him to lure the victim into his den in the capital, where he drugged her, beat her to death and then cut off her head and limbs to scatter them in a river, ditch and deserted tracts.

Judge Balendra Rupakheti brought the sensational murder trial to a close Friday, sentencing Pradhan to 39 years in prison for kidnap and murder, and also ordering his 19-year-old accomplice, high school student Merina Shakya, to serve a prison term of 34 years despite her young age.

It was a moment of sorrowful triumph for the victim’s family who were taken on a heartless wild goose chase from Kathmandu to the border towns of Nepal and India in June 2009 with demands for a NRS 1 million ransom even though Pradhan had killed Khyati within hours of abducting her.

The heart-wrenching story started in June after Pradhan, a gambling addict, ran up huge debts in Kathmandu’s casinos and began looking for money desperately.

He knew Khati and her family closely as at one time, they had been his tenants and he had also taught her in private.

The bright student was planning to go abroad for further studies and Pradhan came to know that her parents had raised a substantial sum of money for that.

Eyeing the money and considering Khyati’s family an easy target, he coerced Merina to call the girl up on her mobile phone, telling her she had been selected for a cash prize and a free trip to Pokhara city by a well-known women’s magazine.

Merina then met the victim and brought her to Pradhan’s new rented digs where though surprised to see him, she accepted a cold drink offered by him, unaware that it was heavily laced with sedatives.

As she fell unconscious, Pradhan hit her repeatedly with an iron rod and began chopping up her body.

Her headless trunk was found in a stream 17 days after her disappearance. Merina told police she was threatened into silence, a plea that was not considered by the judge while sentencing her to life imprisonment.

Pradhan was arrested after Khyati’s mother, who had gone to the Indo-Nepal border to pay the ransom, came across him in a hotel and her suspicion was aroused.

He confessed to having killed Khyati and was held in Kathmandu’s Central Jail that also houses Nepal’s most notorious convict, alleged French serial killer Charles Sobhraj.

Pradhan, the father of two girls, is said to have been divorced by his wife soon after the murder became public.

During their appearances in court for trial, both Pradhan and Merina were set upon by enraged members of public, who tried to attack them, demanding the restoration of capital punishment for the duo.

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