Nagarik Unmukti Party lawmaker Arun Chaudhary arrested over 12-year-old arsonParty says it is shocked by the arrest and may withdraw support to government.
At a time when Nagarik Unmukti Party has set the release of its leader Resham Chaudhary as a precondition for joining the government, police on Thursday arrested its lawmaker Arun Chaudhary in connection with a 12-year-old case of arson, for which he was convicted by the court.
Arun, who was elected to the lower house from Kailali-2 in the November elections, was arrested from Baijanathpur Rural Municipality in Banke district. “Nagarik Unmukti Party lawmaker Arun Chaudhary has been arrested from Banke district. The Banke police handed him over to the Kailali police,” Posh Raj Pokharel, Nepal Police spokesperson, told the Post. “The parliament secretariat will be informed about the arrest.”
When contacted by the Post on Thursday evening, Ek Ram Giri, a spokesperson at the Parliament Secretariat, however, expressed ignorance about the arrest. The police need to inform the lower house in writing if a sitting lawmaker is arrested.
Pokharel said Arun was arrested because he has yet to serve the jail term associated with his conviction. He was absconding for a decade now, according to police. The Kailali district court in April 2013 had convicted Arun for torching a tractor belonging to a private individual in August 2009. The court had imposed six months of jail along with a fine of Rs900,000 on him.
The Nagarik Unmukti Party, however, has termed the arrest as an attack on the Tharu community. It has said it is unfortunate that the government has arrested the party’s yet another leader when they were awaiting Resham’s release.
Resham, a former lawmaker and the husband of Ranjita Shrestha, chairperson of the Nargarik Unmukti Party, was convicted of masterminding the 2015 Tikapur killings by the Kailali district court in March 2019 and the decision was upheld also by the Dipayal High Court in December 2020. In what is known as the Tikapur killings, eight people including a high-ranking police official and a toddler were killed during a violent anti-government protest in Tikapur of Kailali.
The party supported the formation for the incumbent Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government on the condition that it would release Resham and other members of the party who are facing various cases.
The Nagarik Unmukti Party was among the seven parties that on December 25 extended support to the government.
Party chief Shrestha said they are shocked by Arun’s arrest. “They didn’t bother to arrest him when he contested two elections, but now suddenly he has been termed a convict absconding for a long time,” she told the Post. She said Prime Minister Dahal, who is also taking charge as Home Minister, doesn’t seem interested in addressing the concerns of the Tharu people.
“It is clear that this government is biased towards the Tharu people,” said Shrestha, whose party has four lawmakers in the lower house. “We are thinking about withdrawing our support to the government.”