On Thursday, Oct 9 Nepal celebrated Bada Dashami, the 10th day of the biggest Hindu festival Dashain, traditionally regarded as an auspicious day for weddings. While pairs headed for temples to say 'I do', for 64-year-old Sobhraj, it was a more sombre ceremony in Kathmandu"s Central Jail where he has been serving a life sentence for murder. The bride wore a pink T-shirt and trousers while Sobhraj kept his trademark cap as they exchanged vows and tikas, the red vermilion mark. He was allowed to come out of his cell and in the presence of curious prison guards and other inmates, the short ceremony was conducted to make them husband and wife.
Charles was formaly engaged to Nihita in July following Nihita's visit to the prison to offer to interpret for Sobhraj's visiting French lawyer, a visit which both say resulted in love at first sight.
Like the controversial romance they had, the wedding is also going to be controversial. There was no priest though the bride"s brother and mother Shakuntala Thapa turned up to show their support. Thapa, a leading lawyer, is also fighting Sobhraj"s case in Supreme Court, challenging a lower court decision that declared him guilty of the murder of an US backpacker, Connie Jo Bronzich, in 1975.
Charles Sobhraj's plea will be heard on Oct 19 when Nepal's courts reopen after the long holiday break. If Sobhraj is set free, the couple will go to France and get married in accordance with French laws.
This is Sobhraj"s second wedding, though in between he had several girlfriends and a common law wife of Chinese origin with whom he has a daughter. The newlyweds have decided that the daughter, now six, will live with them. Sobhraj"s only recorded and official wedding was to a French woman who divorced him during his imprisonment in India and later married an American.
If the apex court rejects Sobhraj"s appeal, Nihita will go to the International Court of Justice to fight for his release. Sobhraj claims he was framed by police and not given a fair trial.