Father turns down tip-off reward

Kalimpong, July 24: The Hampshire police might have kept their promise, but the father of the girl tricked by Maninder Pal Singh Kohli said he did not feel it “right” to accept the award.

Offering the prize money to the family of Bharati Das, the local girl who married Kohli, charged with rape and murder of a British girl in the UK, has not gone down well with the Das’s here.

“We don’t even know how much they were offering us. How could they think we would accept such a reward? When we first tried to contact Hannah Foster’s parents, we could not, and now by coming back into our lives, they have made my daughter more miserable. A letter of thanks from Hannah’s parents would have meant more to us,” said 69-year-old Oath Bahadur Das, Bharati’s father.

Last week, almost a year after Kohli’s arrest, detective superintendent of the Hampshire police Alan Betts had come down to the Hills to distribute Rs 50 lakh as reward among a dozen persons in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. The recipients of the award had helped track down Kohli, the suspected rapist and murderer of Foster, a 17-year-old girl in Hampshire, England.

Of the Rs 50 lakh, Rs 45 lakh has been contributed by the Hampshire Constabulary and Rs 5 lakh by The Sun newspaper.

According to Das, the people who had come here to distribute the money had tried to contact the family many times. “When we refused to talk to them, they sent a messenger who told us they wanted to give us a part of the reward money,” said Das.

The police, with the help of residents here, had arrested Kohli at Panighatta, when he was trying to flee Kalimpong on July 15, 2004. Das had given out the information on Kohli’s whereabouts.“Whatever help I had provided for Kohli’s arrest was on humanitarian grounds. I, too, have a daughter like the Fosters and I understood what they were going through. What happened to their daughter was unfortunate. The same is true for my daughter, whose life has been shattered,” said Das.

He said Bharati, who did not want to meet the press, was trying to recover from the trauma. “But incidents like this only remind her of the nightmare,” said Das.

On Friday, Betts had refused to answer when asked if the Das’s had been offered the reward. “We will not comment on who is getting the prize money as some people do not want to disclose their identity. We know that Bharati went through a lot of pain and we are sorry for that. We also know that by coming back here we are reminding her of the horror, which is not our intention. We are here to keep our promise,” Betts had said.

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