Kathmandu: Caught in a raging controversy in India after the deportation of his estranged wife Neetu Singh by the Maharashtra Police, Nepali power broker Amresh Kumar Singh is returning to Kathmandu this fortnight after submitting his PhD thesis at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Singh has been forced into hiding in India after the Indian media began seeking him following the questionable deportation of Neetu, a student of the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune, last month on the allegation that she was involved in "anti-national activities".
Frantic phone calls to him from politicians in Nepal, who have been close to him, have gone unanswered ever since the storm broke last week.
WHO IS NEETU? FTII student Neetu Singh was deported to Kathmandu by Maharashtra Police last month.
However, sources said Amresh Kumar Singh's return to Nepal did not augur well for Neetu, who would be under greater pressure.
Singh enjoys considerable clout in Nepal's police force due to his proximity to former home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula. Sitaula's Nepali Congress party, now a key partner in Nepal's ruling alliance, nominated Singh to parliament in the past as an MP and gave him a ticket to fight the election last year though he is not even a member of the party.
Neetu, who has returned to her maternal home in Nepal's Jhapa district, is under pressure by police authorities to sign a divorce agreement, family sources said.
She was married to Singh after the election, which he lost, and the reception was held at the Armed Police Headquarters in Kathmandu valley's Halchok area, underscoring Singh's connections.
With Sitaula also hailing from Jhapa, Neetu's family is under immense pressure, sources said. Her father, a retired state education officer, has been opposing the bid to make her sign divorce papers saying she needed to regain her mental equilibrium first.
One of the reasons for the pressure is a house in Kathmandu valley that Singh had made over to Neetu after the marriage. He now wants it back as well as the jewellery she received as wedding gift.
While the Indian media has taken up cudgels on Neetu's behalf, the Nepali media remained withdrawn even Sunday with the biggest media group, Kantipur, remaining aloof.
"The media in Nepal is insensitive," said Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of Rajdhani daily that was the first to make public the incident in Nepal and Sunday carried an editorial condemning it.
"They are politically motivated. News is reported depending on the political affiliation of the victim or the perpetrator and not the issue."
He also said that it was partly due to Singh's projecting himself as being close to the Indian government.
"He was seen as someone who was practically a representative of the Indian government," he said. "Though Nepal's parties say they condemn Indian interference, yet one call from any Indian official and they are all there."
Kishor Shrestha, editor of the Jana Aastha weekly, echoed Ghimire.
"It was an over-the-top reaction by the Indian authorities to what was a domestic dispute," Shrestha added.
"If Neetu was really guilty of anti-national activities, the Indian government should have conducted a credible and honest investigation into it.
"Instead, they dumped her on Nepal, adding to Nepal's woes."
Shrestha also called the deportation a "payoff" by the Indian authorities.
"Amresh Singh was closer to the Indian authorities than the Nepali ones and is regarded as having been of help to them during the pro-democracy movement," Shrestha said.
"So they were in his debt. But the debt could have been discharged in a less conspicuous way."