District attorney office takes Yadav abduction complaint but only after a counter-complaint by the accusedComplaint by ruling party leaders accused of kidnapping lawmaker Surendra Yadav is aimed at defusing the case, lawyers say.
The Kathmandu District Attorney Office on Monday registered a complaint on the abduction case filed by Surendra Yadav, a Janata Samajbadi Party, Nepal lawmaker.
Yadav had reached the district attorney’s office along with his lawyers, including Birendra Thakur, on Monday afternoon after his earlier attempt to register the complaint eight days ago failed.
Joint District Attorney Numaraj Khanal said that his office registered Yadav’s complaint against two Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders–Mahesh Basnet and Kishan Shrestha–and former Nepal Police chief Sarbendra Khanal.
“It’s strange that my complaint was registered only after the ruling Nepal Communist Party settled its internal crisis,” Yadav told the Post.
Yadav’s abduction allegation had become a major bone of contention in the ruling party, as leaders from the factions led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal were employing the incident against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
According to Yadav, he was brought to Kathmandu from Bardibas forcefully as part of Oli’s bid to split his party–then known as Samajbadi Party Nepal.
The incident took place on April 22, days after Oli pushed through an ordinance that eased the provision related to a party split and registration of a new party. But the Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal on April 22 announced their unity in a dramatic fashion to form the Janata Samajbadi Party.
Janata Samajbadi Party leaders including Baburam Bhattarai, Upendra Yadav and Rajendra Mahato had alleged that the state was behind the kidnapping of their lawmaker.
The opposing faction in the ruling party that was trying to put a squeeze on Oli over the ordinance used the allegation to pounce on him and demand his resignation.
Amid this, the Metropolitan Police Range, Teku on April 26 refused to register an abduction case against Basnet, Shrestha and Khanal, who are considered loyal to Oli, raising suspicion over the law enforcement agency’s neutrality.
Turned down by police, Yadav on April 28 approached the Kathmandu District Attorney Office to file his complaint but only to be turned down.
On Monday, the attorney office, however, registered the complaint soon after Sanjiv Kumar Jha filed a complaint, on behalf of Basnet, Shrestha and Khanal, against Baburam Bhattarai, accusing him of defaming the three via social media.
Jha is a central committee member of Yuwa Sangh Nepal, youth wing of the ruling Nepal Communist Party.
According to Jha, he went to the district attorney office after police refused to file a complaint against Baburam Bhattarai, Hisila Yami and Bishwodip Pande for defaming his leaders.
Basnet had on April 26 reached the Teku Police Range to file a complaint against Bhattarai.
Senior Superintendent Shyam Gyawali, chief of the Teku police, said that Basnet and his friends had demanded that their case against Yadav be registered.
“But since we found the case related to defamation, we asked them to file the case at the district court because police do not take defamation cases,” Gyawali told the Post. “It looked like a case of cyber crime, but at the core, it was straightforward a defamation case.”
Long before reaching the Teku police, Bhattarai and some other Janata Samajbadi Party leaders had accused Basnet, Shrestha and Khanal through social media posts of abducting Yadav.
After being turned down by the district attorney, Yadav had on April 30 filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission.
In his complaint Yadav had said Basnet, Shrestha and Khanal had kidnapped him but the police were not ready to register a case “as they enjoy the protection from the government.”
“Me and my family members are under threats of life from them [those involved in alleged kidnapping],” he wrote in his complaint. “They need to be arrested immediately and a case needs to be filed against them.”
The commission had written to the Nepal Police Headquarters the same day, demanding an explanation why Yadav’s case was not registered.
But on Monday, Basnet, Shrestha and Khanal also approached the national rights watchdog with a complaint that abduction allegations made against them violated their human rights.
“We have complained to the rights commission because allegations made against us violate our human rights,” said Shrestha, one of the ruling party lawmakers accused of abducting Yadav. “In our complaint, we have pleaded innocence. As a matter of fact, Janata Samajbadi Party leaders had abducted Yadav from Marriott Hotel and we have mentioned that in our complaint.”
Bed Bhattarai, secretary at the commission, confirmed to the Post that a complaint by Basnet, Shrestha and Khanal had been registered at the rights watchdog.
“We took the complaint as the complainants said the police refused to take their complaints of cybercrime,” he told the Post. “We will study the complaint before deciding whether it is necessary to write to the police for an explanation why they refused to register the complaint.”
While it is the police that investigate an abduction case, the commission can direct it to register cases and carry out proper investigation, if deemed necessary.
Legal experts say the police should register and investigate cases without delay whenever someone approaches the law enforcement agency with a complaint of abduction.
“The due process hasn’t been followed in this case,” said Raju Chapagain, a human rights lawyer. “The police should come up with facts after a proper probe.”
According to Chapagain, Basnet and his team’s move of filing the complaint at the attorney office is aimed at defusing the entire case.
Khanal, the joint district attorney, told the Post that Yadav’s complaint was not filed on April 28 because officials wanted some time to study the case.
Janata Samajbadi leader Bhattarai said the counter-complaint is a drama orchestrated by Oli’s men to derail the due process of law.
“If we fail to check Oli’s fascism on time, it will cost the country and our society dearly,” Bhattarai told the Post. “Oli had started using his vigilantes against me long ago. He still continues to do so, but I will continue my fight.”
Senior Advocate Narayan Prasad Ghimire described the counter-complaints by the accused as a means to dismiss the case.
“Such tactics of counter-complaints are generally used as a cloak for illegal activities so as to derail the due process of law. Usually people in power and position indulge in such activities,” said Ghimire. “My impression is that the counter-complaints have been made to derail the investigation process.”
According to Ghimire, the authorities must launch an impartial investigation into the complaint as well as counter-complaint.
“If both complaints are investigated through the due process of law, the party with false claims could be in trouble, as the existing law demands punishment for making false claims,” said Ghimire.