District court remands 23 accused in killings of six youths in Rukum (West) to judicial custodyPolice have so far arrested 29 individuals in connection with the incident.
Rukum (West) District Court has remanded 23 people facing various charges over the Soti killings, in judicial custody after a preliminary hearing in the case.
A single bench of Judge Bidhyaraj Paudel on Wednesday issued the order to remand the 23, including Dambar Bahadur Malla, chairman of Ward No 8 of Chaurjahari Municipality, in judicial custody over their alleged involvement in the killings of six youths in Soti.
On May 23, villagers of Soti in Chaurjahari Municipality, Rukum (West), allegedly chased away Nabaraj BK and 18 of his friends from the neighbouring district of Jajarkot upon learning that the group had come to help Nabaraj elope with his 17-year-old girlfriend.
Six bodies, including that of BK, have been recovered from the Bheri river and its vicinity so far.
On May 30, a team comprising members of the Karnali Provincial Assembly, after visiting the incident site and talking to witnesses and family members, concluded that the incident was premeditated and borne out of caste-based discrimination.
Police have so far arrested 29 individuals in connection to the incident, 23 of whom face various charges related to murder, according to Deputy Superintendent Thag Bahadur KC, chief of Rukum (West) Police. Among the alleged perpetrators of the crime, five are still at large.
According to court registrar Krita Bahadur Bohara, the court has released a woman from Chaurjahari on Rs 100,000 bail while three others were freed without bail.
The court on June 15 had ordered that two minors involved in the case be sent to a juvenile reform centre until a verdict is passed.
According to Bohara, the court issued the order to send the 23 to judicial custody as per existing legal provisions.
Legal practitioners have hailed the court’s decision.
Advocate Ramchandra Gautam said that the court’s order was in favour of the victims.
According to him, pieces of evidence related to the case will be protected while the defendants are in prison.
The Rukum District Attorney’s Office on June 14 filed three different cases against 34 people involved in the crime. Homicide, attempted homicide and caste-based discrimination and untouchability charges were filed against them.
Twenty-five legal practitioners, including five government attorneys, argued on behalf of the victims during the preliminary hearing that started on June 15.
The defendants claim that they are not guilty of all charges.
“We had demanded the bench release all defendants without bail,” said Bhakta Bahadur Malla, one of the attorneys from the defendants’ side.
Keshavraj Chapai, Rukum (West) District Attorney, said his office has demanded life imprisonment for murder, 10 years imprisonment and fine up to Rs 100,000 for attempted murder, three years imprisonment and up to Rs 30,000 fine for caste-based discrimination and untouchability charges, along with compensation for victims and their families.
In the chargesheets, 34 people including ward chairman Malla have been named as “directly involved” in the incident.