Human rights body summons police involved in the killing of Chand cadreHome Ministry has defended the killing, saying security personnel opened fire in self-defence, but family members tell another story.
The National Human Rights Commission, which has been investigating the death of a Communist Party of Nepal member in Sarlahi on the grounds that the incident took place in suspicious circumstances, has summoned the police personnel who were involved in the killing.
Four police officers had on June 20 accosted two persons before opening fire on them. Kumar Paudel, the district in-charge of the Netra Bikram Chand-led party, was killed in the firing.
Though the government has said the police fired in retaliation and that Paudel was killed in an encounter, the national rights watchdog started its own investigation after it received complaints from family members accusing security forces of killing Paudel after taking him into custody.
The issue has also reached the federal parliament where the opposition parties—the Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal—have demanded a parliamentary probe panel.
The human rights body has also sought autopsy and police reports after its preliminary investigation suggested that he was killed under suspicious circumstances. Sarlahi District Police submitted the postmortem report only last week after repeated calls from the human rights watchdog.
Bed Bhattarai, secretary at the commission, told the Post that four police personnel who were involved in the killing have been summoned to the commission to record their statements. An investigation team from the commission will be heading to Lalbandi, along with eyewitnesses, to inquire about the incident, said Bhattarai.
Police have given references of local eyewitnesses to justify their claim that Paudel was the one who first opened fire and that he was killed after security personnel retaliated in self-defence. The commission on Sunday handed over the autopsy report to a team of forensic experts.
“We are trying to complete the process of recording statements of the police personnel in question,” Bhattarai told the Post. “ An investigation into the autopsy report and verification [of police claim] with eyewitnesses should also complete within a week. It should not take more than 12 days to finalise the report.”
Paudel is one of the three Chand party members to have been killed in police action since March after the government banned the outfit’s activities.
Over the months, six Chand outfit members have died when improvised explosive devices that were in their possession went off accidentally. While the government has said it is open to talks with the Communist Party of Nepal, an offshoot of the Maoist party that waged the decade-long “people’s war”, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has maintained a tough stance against the outfit.
After four members of the party were killed in May while trying to rig gas cylinders as explosive devices, Thapa told the House of Representatives that those who had died “were not citizens”.
Following controversy over Paudel’s death, the government had formed an inquiry team led by an under-secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, which said it was Paudel who first opened fire on the police personnel. On July 10, while briefing the lawmakers on the report, amid demand from the opposition parties to form a parliamentary probe panel, Thapa had said Paudel died while police were taking actions to “defend democracy”.
Both the Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party have said that they won’t let the House of Representatives function until a parliamentary committee is formed to investigate into Paudel’s death.
Although Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara has said he is positive about the opposition demands, he hasn’t been able to ensure a meeting point for the ruling and opposition parties.
As part of the government’s intensified crackdown on Chand party, police in the last five months have arrested hundreds of Chand party members from different parts of the country.
On Saturday midnight, police detained Maila Lama from Kandaghari in Kathmandu, claiming that he was responsible for two blasts in the Capital in February and March. One person was killed and two others were injured in the February blast.
What do you think?
Dear reader, we’d like to hear from you. We regularly publish letters to the editor on contemporary issues or direct responses to something the Post has recently published. Please send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Letter to the Editor" in the subject line. Please include your name, location, and a contact address so one of our editors can reach out to you.