While in prison in Kathmandu, Charles Sobhraj would make the occasional phone call to me – just as he did while I covered his trial in India and during his stint in Tihar Jail. The calls from Kathmandu were mostly when he was taken out of jail for a court hearing or a visit to the hospital.
On August 15, 2016, when his release seemed imminent, Sobhraj replied to questions I sent him on email, with a caveat: the interview, he insisted, should be published only on his release from Kathmandu Jail. Since then, however, his release kept getting delayed – in 2017, he had a heart surgery and then came the Covid pandemic.
In the interview, Sobhraj spoke about his arrest from a casino in Nepal in 2003, his stint in Delhi’s Tihar Jail between 1976 and 1997, and the book and movie releases that he was part of then. But it was on his supposed role in trying to secure the release of the hijacked passengers of IC-814 that Sobhraj was most forthcoming. He spoke about his meetings with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar , about the “long conversations” with the late Jaswant Singh, then foreign minister and the man who finally escorted the terrorists to Kandahar; of the “undertaking” he secured from Masood’s party that the hostages won’t be harmed.
Now that the master of guile is set to take his flight to freedom at age 78, the world may finally get to hear from the man himself – the chronicles, claims and conspiracy theories that make up Charles Sobhraj.