Congress decries its senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel’s arrestPoudel, taken into custody for ‘violating prohibitory orders’, was released after three hours.
Senior Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel was arrested on Wednesday from Byas Municipality in Tanahun for, what the security officials said, violating the prohibitory orders enforced by the district administration office. He was kept in custody at the District Police Office, Damauli, and released three hours later.
Jit Prakash Aale, the acting Congress district president of Tanahun who was also arrested with Poudel, told the Post that both of them were released after three hours. The security personnel detained around a dozen Congress leaders and activists from the Talghare area on Wednesday. Earlier, police had briefly detained five Nepal Communist Party activists as well.
Some Congress leaders and cadres were injured in a clash with police. According to Aale, Constituent Assembly member Ram Chandra Pokharel, Mahasamiti member of the party Ram Chandra Adhikari and district secretary Laxmi Acharya are receiving treatment in Ratnahari Hospital.
Poudel, a former House Speaker and deputy prime minister, said that the arrest underlines the government’s authoritarian rule. "I went to inaugurate a bridge after coordinating with the local unit as well as the bridge construction committee," he said. Claiming that his arrest was a premeditated plan of the KP Oli government, Poudel said the move was a blatant attack on people's rights.
According to Senior Superintendent Arun Poudel, security officials took Congress leader Poudel in custody because he was on his way to inaugurate a bridge, defying the prohibitory orders.
Tanahun is Poudel’s home district.
Byas Municipality had scheduled the inauguration of a bridge over the Buldi khola linking Talghare and Dumsi at 1 pm on Wednesday. The bridge construction consumers' committee and the local government had invited Congress leader Poudel to inaugurate the bridge. But the NCP wanted Krishna Kumar Shrestha, who defeated Poudel during the election of the House of Representatives in 2017, to inaugurate the bridge.
A dispute arose between members of the Nepali Congress and the Youth Association Nepal, the youth wing of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, over the inauguration of the bridge.
Following the dispute, the District Administration Office had imposed prohibitory orders on Wednesday from 12 noon till 6pm.
“The Nepali Congress wanted to inaugurate the bridge while the Youth Association was against it. That’s when the dispute arose,” said Sagar Acharya, chief district officer of Tanahun.
The Youth Association was protesting against the municipality’s decision, saying it was beyond the municipality’s jurisdiction to authorise such a programme on its own.
The Nepali Congress has criticised Poudel’s arrest, calling it an indication of authoritarianism. “Condemning the government action, I demand Poudel’s immediate release or ask the government to be ready to face the consequences,” Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba said in a statement.