Soti incident premeditated, a team of provincial assembly members concludesKarnali state legislators call for an impartial investigation into the Dalit killings and punishment for the perpetrators.
Bhim Bahadur Singh & Hari Gautam
A team of Karnali Provincial Assembly members who inspected the Soti incident has concluded that the incident was premeditated. The team reached the conclusion after talking with the victims’ families, witnesses, locals and visiting the site of the incident.
The five-member team includes Provincial Assembly Whip of Nepal Communist Party Seeta Nepali, Chair of Social Development Committee Raju Nepali, and assembly members Rato Kami, Dansingh Pariyar and Jhowa BK.
The team calls for an impartial investigation into the case and punishment to the perpetrators, Nepali said.
“The incident is clearly motivated by caste-based discrimination,” she said. “After inspecting the site of the incident and the bodies of the victims, we concluded that a crime of this magnitude is not possible without a premeditated scheme.”
On May 23, over 60 villagers of Soti in Chaurjahari Municipality, Rukum (West), had chased away Nabaraj BK and 18 of his friends upon learning that the group had come to take Nabaraj’s 17-year-old girlfriend.
“The root of the incident is the refusal to accept the liaison between a Dalit man and a girl from the upper-caste by her family and the villagers,” Rato Kami, another member of the team, said. “Our investigation has shown that Nabaraj had visited the girl’s village at least twice prior to the incident and the relationship was known among the family and neighbours.”
Kami added that the villagers had chased the group away following a verbal spat with the girl’s mother. “The villagers then chased the group, pelted stones at them and thrashed them physically with logs, long before the group had reached the Bheri River,” he said.
“A group of about 70 people chased us away with stones, wood and sickles,” said Saroj Bhadeka, who had accompanied Nabaraj to the village. “Our team dispersed every which way to save lives. I didn’t know what happened to the others.”
So far, the bodies of five individuals—Nabaraj BK, Ganesh Budha, Sandip BK, Lokendra Sunar and Tikaram Nepali—have been recovered while police are still searching for Govinda Shahi. According to family members, the deceased have sustained deep wounds and cuts in the head, body, and hands.
Kami said that the wounds on the bodies of the dead are further proof that the incident was premeditated. “There is strong evidence that the men were beaten to death and left to die long before they reached the river, and were thrown to the river once they were dead,” he said. “This is an inexcusable mass murder.”
The five-member team from the Ministry of Home Affairs had started investigating the case from Friday.