Morcha insists govt drop charges against its leadersThe Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) has called on the government to release its leaders and cadres arrested in connection with lynching of a police official, claiming that the charges against them were politically motivated.
The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) has called on the government to release its leaders and cadres arrested in connection with lynching of a police official, claiming that the charges against them were politically motivated.
Morcha leaders have said those arrested during the five-month Madhes agitation should be freed unconditionally irrespective of charges they were facing. Morcha’s demands come at a time when the Tharuhat/Tharuwan Joint Struggle Committee has also been pressing the government to release its leaders arrested in connection with Kailali incident.
The SLMM claims that the local administration has arrested or filed charge sheets against more than 100 leaders, cadres and activists during the protest. Twenty eight Morcha cadres, including Devendra Yadav, joint general secretary of the Sadbhawana Party, are facing charges in connection to lynching of Thaman Bahadur BK, an Armed Police Force (APF) Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI). BK, who was being taken to hospital in an ambulance for treatment after being injured in a clash with the protesters, was lynched by a mob on September 11.
Other accused in the case include Mohan Thakur, Shankar Kumar Mishra, Laxmi Mahato of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, Kaushal Kumar Yadav of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal and Suresh Pandey of the Tarai-Madhes Sadbhawana Party.
Police have arrested only three people in connection with the case, while the rest are still at large.
“The charges were politically motivated. The government should immediately drop all charges and free them unconditionally,” said Laxman Lal Karna, the co-chair of the Sadbhawana Party.
Under pressure from their local leaders, the Morcha leadership has even threatened to boycott any further negotiations on the political issues unless the charges against its cadres are withdrawn.
Senior government officials, however, maintain that they would follow due legal procedures in cases associated with the killing of police officials. “We cannot do anything due to sub judice nature of the case,” said Home Ministry Spokesperson Yadav Koirala, adding that the government could take a concrete decision towards that end after the court ruling.
According to Home Ministry officials, senior leaders had inquired about the possibility of withdrawing the charges during the early phase of negotiations after the protesters put it as a precondition for talks.
But they had to drop the idea due to strong resistance from Nepal Police which lost 11 personnel during the unrest.
A similar request had been made during the formation of the KP Oli government when Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar proposed for a release of his party leaders who were arrested in connection with the Kailali carnage which left eight policemen dead on August 24.
The Tharuhat/Tharuwan Joint Struggle Committee has also been demanding for the release of more than 60 Tharu leaders and cadres arrested during the protest.
“Nepal Police is already disappointed with the government for failing to take legal action against big leaders who incited the violence. Senior police officials are determined to book the culprit as they are aware that not doing so might dampen the spirit of the police force,” said a senior Home Ministry official.
Rs3.1m for treatment of injured
The government has allocated Rs3.1 million for treatment of those injured during the protest. The Cabinet last this week took the decision in response to a Morcha memorandum submitted to Prime Minister KP Oli on March 11, demanding to address non political demands. The government has also provided Rs1 million each to the families of those who died during the protest. Though the exact data is hard to come by, Morcha leaders claim nearly 200 people injured during
the protest are still undergoing treatment.