Held in Nepal for carrying prop USD notes, West Bengal photographer waits for relief
kolkata: A trip to Nepal turned into a nightmare for a photographer from West Bengal as he ended up in prison for allegedly carrying jpeg image printouts of USD 100 notes, which he would have "needed there for shooting a short film."
Alone and helpless in Nepal, Durlav Roy Chowdhury (24), a resident of Salkia in West Bengal's Howrah district, had been waiting for assistance from India since November.
Speaking over the phone from ward number 2 of Jhapa Karagaar in Nepal, Roy Chowdhury said that the court hearing of his case is scheduled on May 25, and he was hoping to get reprieve as "I have not done anything illegal."
Eshor Raj Poudel, the consul general of Nepal in Kolkata said that he had no information about the case.
"I will explore this and talk to the authorities and the district magistrate of Jhapa. As this is a legal matter, we need to see the evidence. But I can give assurance that all support would be rendered to the family of the man under trial," Poudel stated.
The photographer, who identifies himself as a National Geographic contributor on his Linkedin page, claimed that he was being denied basic facilities in the jail.
He also said that he was subjected to "torture" for 20 days since his arrest on November 24 before being produced before a court which then sent him to judicial custody.
"I started my journey last November. At every checkpoint, I had showed security personnel the printouts of the USD bills that I had with me for the shoot. They allowed me to get through. At the Chandragadi airport, however, authorities sent me to an office and I was subsequently detained," he maintained.
Roy Chowdhury said he was carrying around 230 pieces of prop USD notes, which, "in no way, matched with actual currency when forensic tests were conducted."
"I had planned to throw them in the air and shoot a sequence for my film 'Money Isn't Everything'. I had never thought that I would be charged with 'Mudra Sambandhi Kasoor' (offence related to currency) for it in Nepal," Durlav Roy Chowdhury said.
"I have been treated like an animal by the Nepalese police. They didn't allow me to call my mother in India for weeks or share my ordeal with anyone else. For the first few weeks, I was not given my inhaler. My health deteriorated and only then they showed mercy," the photographer added.
The 24-year-old also rued that language has been a major barrier.
"I don't know Nepalese and none of the jail officials speak English. I gave them all details and documents, but they didn't understand. They made
me sign papers that I couldn't read or understand," Roy Chowdhury, who lost his father in 2015, said. He claimed
that the Indian Embassy in Nepal has been of little help to him.
"I keep calling the Indian Embassy here every day but the officials there maintain they won't be able to do much for me. The only thing they helped me with is a lawyer," the photographer stated. His mother, Tripti Roy Chowdhury, a cancer patient, said she had been running from pillar to post to secure freedom for his son over the past few months.
She said that she came to know about her son's imprisonment only in January.
"I spent days trying to locate him. In January, when I came to know of his ordeal, I was shocked," the 63-year-old woman, who visited her
son in March, said. She said that her attempts to reach out to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yielded no result thus far.
- 22 Feb 2021 7:11 PM GMT
- 21 Feb 2021 8:26 PM GMT
- 21 Feb 2021 7:48 PM GMT
- 23 Feb 2021 7:29 PM GMT
- 25 Feb 2021 7:39 PM GMT
- 6 July 2022 1:46 PM GMT
- 6 July 2022 1:41 PM GMT
- 6 July 2022 1:40 PM GMT
- 6 July 2022 12:04 PM GMT
- 6 July 2022 12:03 PM GMT