National Human Rights Commission’s probe finds yet another case of extrajudicial killingState protection for the guilty is giving rise to such cases, human rights activists say.
At a time when the government is looking for excuses not to implement its recommendations to book police officials involved in extrajudicial killing, the Human Rights Commission’s probe has found that police killed two alleged abductors in Bhaktapur after taking them into custody two years ago.
The commission has concluded that a police team led by Deputy Superintendent Rugam Bahadur Kunwar arrested Gopal Tamang, 23, of Sindhupalchok and Ajay Tamang, 24, from Nuwakot and shot them dead at Doleshwor jungle in Suryabinayak, Bhaktapur on August 6, 2018. Officers had claimed that they were killed in “an encounter” as the police had fired at them in retaliation after the duo tried to attack personnel who were searching for Nishan Khadka—the 11-year-old abducted from Kandaghari.
Khadka was found buried in a pit dug for laying the foundation of an under-construction house belonging to Shyam Rawat of Madhyapur Thimi the same day the two were killed.
The commission has concluded that along with Kunwar, Sub-inspectors Dipendra Chanda, Prashnna Malla and Ranjit Tamang and Assistant Sub-inspector Rajan Khadka were involved in the killing. The commission said it had recommended that the government book the police officials on criminal charges.
According to Bed Bhattarai, secretary and spokesperson for the commission, a team led by Tahir Ali Ansari, a former justice at the Supreme Court, consisting of Bigyan Raj Sharma, a former additional inspector general, and Dr Harihari Osti, a forensic expert, was formed to conduct a detailed investigation into the case.
“With support from the Ansari-led team, the commission concluded that the Tamang duo was killed after arrest and the police tried to project the incident as an encounter,” Bhattarai said.
The commission has also recommended Rs 300,000 in compensation to Khadka’s family and Rs 100,000 each to the family of Ajay and Gopal.
The commission’s investigation found that Kumar Paudel, Sarlahi district in-charge of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, too was killed extrajudicially. Though authorities had claimed he died in police action on June 20, 2019 in Lalbandi of Sarlahi, the commission had found that a police team led by Inspector Krishnadev Prasad Sah had killed Paudel.
The commission in October last year recommended legal actions against Sah and senior constables Binod Sah and Satya Narayan Mishra for their involvement in the criminal offence. The commission also asked that a warning be issued to Inspector Kiran Neupane and Sub-inspector Surya Kumar Karki as they provided false reports about Paudel’s killing.
As the constitutional watchdog also found severe lapses in the autopsy report, it had recommended that a warning be issued against Dr Birendra Prasad Mahato from the Malangwa District Hospital.
One year after the recommendation, the government is looking for excuses not to implement them. In May, the government wrote to the commission to review its decision to implicate the police officials in Paudel’s killing.
“The government’s request was just an excuse not to abide by our recommendations,” said Bhattarai. The commission rejected the request on Thursday saying that the decision was taken after a thorough study and there was no need for revision.
Human rights activists say cases of extrajudicial killings are increasing because those involved in the crime are getting the state’s protection. “There is a sense of feeling among the security forces that they won’t face trial,” said Charan Prasai, a human rights activist. “We will see more of such cases as long as impunity prevails.”
On Thursday, the commission listed 286 people including former top government officials and security officials who were implicated by the commission in the last two decades since its formation in 2000.