Resham Chaudhary and ten others sentenced to life for 2015 violence in TikapurThe Kailali District Court on Wednesday handed down a life sentence to 11 people including Resham Lal Chaudhary, a lawmaker from the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, in connection with the 2015 Tikapur incident in which nine people were killed in a violent clash.
The Kailali District Court on Wednesday handed down a life sentence to 11 people including Resham Lal Chaudhary, a lawmaker from the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, in connection with the 2015 Tikapur incident in which nine people were killed in a violent clash.
The court also gave three years in jail each to 12 others and sentenced one person to six months in prison. Three have been acquitted.
A single bench of District Judge Parashuram Bhattarai passed the judgment after a six-day hearing.
Chaudhary was the main accused in the Tikapur (Kailali) incident that erupted on August 17, 2015 after a decision to put Kailali district in one province along with other seven hill districts. Tharus of Kailali opposed the decision. The protest, largely branded the Tharuhat movement, led by Resham Chaudhary in Kailali was part of a larger movement that was going on for months in several districts along the plains against what they called Kathmandu’s conspiracy to discriminate a large section of population of the Tharus, Madhesis and Janajatis.
Around 45 people were killed during August and September in 2015 in the Tarai protests.
As the Tharuhat protest continued, the local administration issued a prohibitory order.
On August 24, 2015, the Tharuhat group called for breaching the prohibitory orders. Protesters and police clashed, and nine people including a senior police official and a child were killed.
The administration imposed a curfew during which there were incidents of arson, looting and vandalism. On September 15, 2015, police filed murder charge against Resham and others.
Resham went into hiding. But when elections took place in 2017, the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal fielded him from Kailali-1. He won with a huge margin despite being in hiding.
On January 3 this year, he was sworn in as a member of the federal parliament. He is currently in Dilli Bazaar Prison in Kathmandu.
Immediately after the district court decision, the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal called an emergency meeting in Kathmandu. It objected to the decision, calling it injustice and demanded that the Kailali movement should have been treated politically.
The party also decided to pull out its support from the KP Oli government, accusing it of failing to release activists of the Madhes and Tharuhat movements.
In a press statement released after the meeting on Wednesday, the party said: “We are shocked and saddened by the decision of Kailali District Court.”
A rally was held in Janakpur on Wednesday evening to protest the court decision.
Talking to the Post over phone from Janakpur, Rajkumar Lekhi, a senior leader of the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, said a demonstration was held in Janakpur. Security has been beefed up in Tikapur and Birgunj.
Meanwhile, various organisations working for the rights and welfare of the Tharu community protested the court’s verdict.
Kailali and Kanchanpur chapters of the Tharuhat Tharuwan Struggle Committee and Tharu Kalyankari Sabha issued a joint statement on Wednesday, demanding release of all accused of the Tikapur incident.
The incident should be treated as a political one and all the accused should be freed to maintain social harmony, reads the statement.
Bijay Kant Lal Karna, a professor of political science and political analyst, said the court’s decision was discriminatory as there was no sufficient evidence to prove them convicts. “Though it’s not good to comment against a court decision, this judgment indicates the continuity of the exploitation of the Tharu and Madhesi people,” Karna, a former ambassador to Denmark, said. “This is only going to fuel the anger of the people have for long been discriminated against.”
The court on Wednesday handed down life sentence to Resham, Harinarayan Chaudhary, Raj Kumar Kathariya, Sundar Lal Kathariya, Brija Mohan Dagaura, Rajesh Chaudhary, Bir Bahadur Chaudhary, Pradip Chaudhary, Sitaram Chaudhary, Shrawan Chaudhary and Gangaram Dagaura Chaudhary as per Civil Code clause 13 (3). Shrawan, however, will serve only 10 years in prison as he was a minor at the time of the incident, said the court.
Kailali police had filed cases against 58 people for their involvement in the Tikapur incident. Twenty-seven people are now in judicial custody while 31 others are on the run.
The court said cases of 31 suspects at large are pending.
Those acquitted are Tahanwar Ali Jaga, Bisharam Chaudhary (Kushmi) and Ram Naresh Chaudhary.
The local administration released 13 people, including three acquitted ones, as per the court’s verdict. Chunniram Chaudhary will be released on March 14 after completing his three-year prison term.
Rajendra Mahato, a leader of the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal presidium, told the Post that Wednesday’s meeting has paved the way for launching a renewed struggle. “We need to make broader preparations before we begin our struggle for our rights and justice.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Mahato told the media in front of Parliament that the court decision of handing down a life sentence to his party lawmaker Resham Chaudhary was “grave injustice” and that a national revolt was now in the making. “Time has come to fight against the tendency of domination and exploitation,” Mahato added.
Responding to court judgment, Lalbir Chaudhary, Resham’s father, lamented the injustice meted out to his son. “We are in extreme pain. The verdict was issued as if he is a traitor. I don’t understand whether the verdict came due to legal loopholes or by pressure,” said Lalbir.
However, family members of those killed in the Kailali incident expressed relief, saying justice has been delivered.
“We Hope the ruling won’t be overturned by the High Court and Supreme Court,” said Jayanti Bhatta, the daughter of police inspector Balaram Bista who was killed in the incident. “We thought the court would acquit the accused but justice prevailed,” she added.
Tika R Pradhan contributed reporting from Kathmandu.