After the Nepali Times story came out in January, Maila was threatened and this journalist was cautioned that powerful Nepalis named in the story could retaliate. In fact, this reporter refrained from naming two others, Devi Sharma and Hemraj Sharma, who many Nepali workers had accused of being involved.
A Nepali woman brought to Finland as a maid was made to work 24 hours a day in the home and restaurants without proper salary. She complained to Finnish Police after being sexually abused. She had asked this reporter last year not to mention her case, fearing retaliation.
Now, Helsingin Sanomat has disclosed that after an investigating lasting two years Helsinki Police suspect the couple Devi and Manju Sharma of trafficking the woman. Both are from Gulmi, and set up the first Nepali restaurants, of which there are now more than 70 all over Finland. Most of these are owned by a handful of Nepalis settled here, mainly from Gulmi.
The first Nepali restaurant, Himalaya, was established in Helsinki in 1993 by Devi Sharma who with his wife Manju now also own Lali Gurans, Gurkha and Yeti restaurants. Hemraj Sharma runs Mount Everest restaurant. Maila’s complaint to Police was against Purna Adhikary of another restaurant, Mount Sherpa.
During a visit to Helsinki in 2018, cooks and waiters told this reporter of exploitation, threats and slave-like working conditions. But they were afraid of being named because the powerful restaurant owners could have them fired, or even deported. Despite meagre pay, they needed their jobs to pay back loans and send money home to families in Nepal. Many restaurant workers suffer depression, and some have attempted suicide.