Banke activists resume sit-in in Capital alleging government dishonestyProtesters led by Ruby Khan demand immediate arrest of ex-CA member Badshah Kurmi over a woman’s disappearance and release of probe report.
The women activists from Nepalgunj have landed in the Capital for the second time in less than two months following the government’s refusal to fully implement the recommendations of a probe committee formed to investigate the cases of murder and disappearance in Banke district.
A team of 16 people including 13 women on October 18 had ended their 12-day sit-in at Maitighar after reaching an agreement with the Ministry of Home Affairs to form an investigation committee to study the twin cases. Fourteen of them had walked for 20 days all the way from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu and started a sit-in on October 6 to pressure the government to investigate the death of Nankunni Dhobi and disappearance of Nirmala Kurmi.
The government probe team had recommended investigation into eight people including Badshah Kurmi, a member of the first Constituent Assembly. Though the police arrested the seven, it hasn’t arrested Kurmi.
Those who travelled on foot to Kathmandu in October have started the second round of sit-in at Maitighar from Thursday immediately after landing in Kathmandu.
“We demand an immediate arrest of Kurmi and release of the study report,” Ruby Khan, who is leading the protest, told the Post. “The government has deceived us. We won’t return until our demands are addressed fully.”
Nankunni, 38, was found dead under suspicious circumstances at her home on July 20 in Ward 2 of Janaki Rural Municipality in Banke. Nirmala, 52, had gone missing in January 2010 from the same rural municipality. Her disappearance came just two years after her two teenage sons were murdered within a span of a week. Neighbours and villagers say Nirmala owned a great deal of property, making her disappearance and the murder of her two sons suspicious. But police never took the case of her disappearance seriously.
Khan said Kurmi is a main accused in the disappearance case. “Not arresting him means the government wants to protect him,” she said. “We want an investigation from the Central Investigation Bureau of the Nepal Police and a separate committee to study where all the property belonging to Nirmala has gone.”
Nirmala owned four bigha (2.68 hectares) of land in Paraspur, Banke. The activists claim that Kurmi was behind her disappearance. The Banke Police have been claiming that Nirmala is already dead, therefore, there is no point investigating her disappearance. It claims that she died in India and her final rites were performed there.
The protesters, however, claim the police have produced fake documents to protect Kurmi, who is a local leader of the ruling Nepali Congress.
Rahul Sheikh, an activist who is participating in the sit-in demanding justice for the two women, said Badshah Kurmi’s people have been threatening them to abandon the protest.
“We are not safe but the administration has remained a mere spectator,” he told the Post. The human rights activists, who are following the development closely, said the government must make the report public and take actions as recommended by the investigation committee. “There is no point forming a probe committee if its recommendations are not implemented,” Mohna Ansari, a former member of the National Human Rights Commission, told the Post. “The government must be honest to its commitments.”