Hampshire rewards Kohli trackers – Cops from UK distribute Rs 50 lakh

http://www.telegraphindia.com

Kalimpong/Darjeeling, July 22: A year after the arrest of suspected rapist and murderer of Hannah Foster, a 17-year-old girl in Hampshire, England, people who helped police track down and nab the alleged offender Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, have been rewarded as promised.

Detective superintendent of the Hampshire police, Alan Betts, who led the inquiry into the crime, handed over the reward to about a dozen persons in Kalimpong today and in Darjeeling yesterday. Betts was accompanied by two of his colleagues.

Betts told The Telegraph in Kalimpong: “After inquiring into the claims and with help from the West Bengal police, we found that there were a number of people who had helped track down Kohli and making his arrest possible. A sum of Rs 50 lakh will be divided evenly among almost a dozen people.” Betts , however, did not name the persons.

The detective said he was thankful to the police here as well as those who had helped by phoning in to the Foster helpline.

Kohli was arrested soon after the victim’s parents, Trevor and Hillary Foster, visited India and appealed to the people to help them track down their daughter’s murderer. A helpline had been set up then.

In a press release in Calcutta today, the British Deputy High Commission, said the reward money of Rs 50 lakh comprises the Rs 45 lakh paid by the Hampshire Constabulary and Rs 5 lakh by The Sun, a newspaper.

“The British government’s application to the Indian government to extradite Kohli to the UK for trial on the offences alleged against him is continuing”, the release said.

Kohli had fled England on March 16, 2003, two days after the Hannah’s body was found. On July 15, 2004, the police with the help of local informers picked him up from Panighatta, near Siliguri, while he was trying to flee Kalimpong where he had almost settled down after marrying a local girl Bharati Das. He had also lived for some time in Darjeeling.

Though Betts refused to divulge the names of the recipients of the award, The Telegraph spoke to two of them in Darjeeling.

Jason Lepcha, one of the few claimants who was willing to speak, said: “I suddenly received a call yesterday from the British policeman and soon after he handed me a little over Rs 3.57 lakh in cash. More than the money, it is the feeling of having helped the police nab such a dangerous criminal that made me happy.”

During his stay in Darjeeling, Kohli, alias Rohan Mehta, was in close touch with Lepcha. “The moment I saw his face on television, I recognised him instantly and called the helpline number,” he said.

Ajay Rathorai, a resident of Darjeeling who also received the award said, Kohli had stayed at his hotel for nearly a month.

“I received the same amount (as Lepcha) for helping track down Kohli and I am happy that the promise has been kept,” Rathorai said.

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