Dahal backtracks on responsibility for 5,000 conflict deathsIn a statement to court, the prime minister says his remark was political, and cannot be an issue of judicial concern.
CPN (Maoist Centre) chair and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said he has never taken responsibility for 5,000 insurgency-era killings.
Furnishing a written clarification to the Supreme Court through his lawyer, Dahal has argued that the petitions demanding investigation against him for insurgency-era killings should be scrapped.
Dahal claimed that his statement three years ago—that he was ready to take moral responsibility for 5,000 deaths—was a response to attempts from some quarters to create a narrative that the then rebels, CPN-Maoist, must take responsibility for all 17,000 insurgency-era deaths.
“There have been attempts to build a narrative that the rebel side must take responsibility for all the deaths that occurred during the people’s war,” he has said in his clarification to the court.
“I made the statement to counter that narrative.”
Dahal has also claimed that his statement was purely political, and therefore cannot be an issue of judicial concern.
“Statements made during political discussions, arguments and counterarguments should be considered as matters outside judicial review,” Dahal has said.
He submitted the clarification in response to a show cause notice from the apex court.
Responding to writ petitions seeking the court’s order for an investigation against Dahal for his controversial statement, the court on March 10 had asked him to furnish a written clarification explaining why not to issue an order as demanded by the petitioners.
Advocate Gyanendra Aran, a conflict victim, and Kalyan Budhathoki, acting chairperson of the Conflict Victims Common Platform, had filed two separate petitions demanding a criminal investigation against Dahal.
“We have received the clarification from Prime Minister Dahal. Now dates will be fixed for the next hearing,” Bimal Poudel, spokesman at the Supreme Court, told the Post. The court has put the petitions in high priority, he added.
On January 15, 2020, while addressing a Maghi festival event in Kathmandu, Dahal had said that as the leader of the party that led the decade-long insurgency, if asked to own up insurgency-era deaths, he would take responsibility for 5,000 deaths and the state should take responsibility for the rest.
An estimated 17,000 people were killed during the insurgency that ran from 1996 to 2006.
Saying that only his party was being accused for all the insurgency-era killings, Dahal had then said, “That is not true. Feudal kings killed 12,000. If you insist, I can take responsibility for 5,000. However, it will be unfair to not discuss the deaths of 12,000 from the state and blame me for all the killings.”
In their petitions, the victims have demanded that the court order the state authorities to take necessary legal action against Dahal for the killings that he himself owned up to.
However, the Maoist Centre and its breakaway factions have been objecting to the decision of the court to accept the petitions in the first place. Against their claims that the insurgency-era cases of atrocities must be handled solely by the transitional justice mechanism, the apex court in its March 3 ruling had said, “Criminal justice process cannot be kept on hold, made ineffective and passive under any pretext.”
In his clarification, Dahal has said he and his party have never obstructed the transitional justice process; therefore, they should not be blamed for the delay in its conclusion.
He, however, has acknowledged that there has been delay in concluding the transitional justice process, which is a part of the peace process.