Maoists’ response to come todayThe Maoist Centre says it will come up with its response to the CIAA move after party Chairman and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s return from India today
On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) decided to review the appointment of Lok Man Singh Karki, chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). And coinciding with the SC decision, the anti-graft body said it “has decided to expedite its probe” into the complaints regarding corruption in former Maoist cantonments.
The two incidents are likely to trigger dramatic events.
Senior CPN (Maoist Centre) leaders said on Saturday that the party would come up with its response after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s return from New Delhi. PM Dahal is in India since Thursday on a four-day state visit and is set to return home on Sunday. The party has scheduled a headquarters meeting for Sunday.
In most of the complaints regarding corruption in the cantonments where former Maoist fighters were housed until the integration process was completed, top Maoist leaders have been charged with graft cases.
A CIAA source claimed that all the then commanders, including PM Dahal, could be dragged into the graft case “for their involvement in misappropriation of cantonment funds”. Dahal was the supreme commander of the Maoist’s “People’s Liberation Army” during the decade-long insurgency.
Barshaman Pun, Janardan Sharma, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Chakrapani Khanal and Nanda Bahadur Pun were the commanders. Pun is former finance minister, Sharma is incumbent energy minister, Mahara is deputy prime minister and finance minister, Khanal is principal political adviser to PM Dahal and Pun is Vice-President. Other commanders who have been accused of corruption in the cantonments include Kali Bahadur Kham, Tej Bahadur Oli, Dhan Bahadur Maskey and Santu Darai.
According to the CIAA, the investigation into alleged corruption during the cantonment management was undergoing and on Friday, the anti-graft body took the decision to expedite the investigation to take the “probe to a logical conclusion”.
“It had failed to make it to the priority list earlier, as commissioners were not appointed then,” said Ganesh Raj Karki, spokesperson of CIAA. “With the commission getting the full shape following the appointment of commissioners, we have decided to put the issue on priority.”
The CIAA has said it has decided to seek response from those Maoist leaders who were involved in decision-making to provide and distribute salary and allowance to former Maoist combatants. “We will seek statements from those who we deem necessary based on our investigation so far,” said Karki.
The timing of the decision, however, has caused some eyebrows to raise.
The CIAA decision “to expedite investigation” has come amid the SC’s ruling to open the case related to CIAA chief Karki’s appointment.
Karki’s appointment as the chief commissioner of the anti-graft body in 2013 was heavily criticised. Then government led by then chief justice Khil Raj Regmi had appointed Karki as the CIAA chief following “a political agreement” among top leaders of major parties, including Dahal.
Youth Association of Nepal, a sister wing of CPN-UML had filed a corruption case at the CIAA in September 2012 against Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai, who was then Dahal’s deputy in the party, charging them with misusing cantonment funds.
Following reports of graft in cantonments, the party had also formed a panel to look into the charges.
The United Nations Mission in Nepal in 2007 had verified 19,602 Maoist combatants. It later came to light that some 3,000 Maoist combatants were not available in the cantonments when the Special Committee verified the numbers before integration process was started.
The Maoist party, however, had received monthly salaries and allowances for those missing combatants as well until their regrouping in December 2011.