Dahal shows double standards in Gaur massacre probeOn March 21, 2007, as many as 27 Maoist party workers were brutally killed, with 115 more injured in the incident.
The Pushpa Kamal Dahal government has demonstrated “double standards” in investigating a 2007 massacre in Rautahat district.
With no initiative from successive governments to examine the massacre, the relatives of the victims began a series of protests in the district from July 29. After six days of agitation, the Prime Minister’s Office, on Friday, called the protesters for a meeting. In the meeting on Saturday, Dahal assured the protesters that he would constitute a home secretary-led panel to hold dialogue and deliver justice.
“The prime minister has assured us that he will constitute a committee for a dialogue with us,” Rup Sagar Upadhyay, wife of Narmadeshwar who was murdered in the mass killing, told the Post. “He said the government will look into the matter and provide justice to all the victims’ families.”
Upadhyay, who also is a coordinator of the Gaur Massacre Victims’ Struggle Committee, said the prime minister had requested them to sit for talks and withdraw their protests. “We refused as we need to see action this time. Several assurances in the past were nothing but lip service,” she added.
Dahal, who gave his word to the victims to investigate the 15-year-old incident, however, has ignored the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission for a probe. Though the government is legally obliged to follow recommendations from the constitutional commission, the Dahal administration has ignored the suggestion.
After years-long investigation, the commission on January 7 had asked government agencies through the Prime Minister’s Office to probe the incident and take action against Rastriya Janata Party chair Upendra Yadav and 129 others in connection with the crime. As per the commission Act, the government either has to abide by their recommendations or write back to the human rights watchdog within three months, explaining why its recommendations cannot be implemented.
Seven months since the commission’s decision, the government has neither abided by it nor has it explained to the commission why its recommendation wasn’t implemented.
“There is no response from the government despite our repeated concerns. We are preparing to write again within a few days,” Shyam Babu Kafle, the investigation chief at the commission, told the Post.
On March 21, 2007, as many as 27 individuals associated with the CPN (Maoist) were brutally killed, with another 115 injured in the incident.
In its recommendations, the commission had asked the government to proceed with the investigation of the complaint lodged at the Rautahat District Police Office on May 11, 2007 and report to it on the progress made, every three months. It also suggested providing Rs300,000 to each victim’s family while also offering free treatment to the injured and seeking details of all that was lost in the incident. But it was to no avail.
The constitutional rights watchdog had concluded that the killings of more than two dozen people were orchestrated and that both the then Madheshi Janadhikar Forum Nepal and CPN (Maoist) were aware of possible violence when they chose the same venue for their rallies.
Concluding its investigation 15 years after the incident, the commission had also directed the government to take departmental actions against then-Rautahat district police chief Yogeshwar Romkhami; then-chief district officer Madhav Prasad Ojha; Superintendent of Police Ram Kumar Khanal; deputy superintendent of Armed Police Force Dharmananda Sapkota; and sub-inspector Kamakhya Narayan Singh. If they are no longer in service, it asked the authorities concerned not to give them another opportunity in government service.
Those who have closely followed the developments say Dahal’s assurance to constitute a new committee for dialogue is nothing but yet another strategy to prolong the investigation. “If Dahal’s government was really committed to delivering justice, it would have abided by the commission’s recommendations. Assurance to constitute a new committee while ignoring the recommendations from the constitutional body is clearly double standards,” Bed Bhattarai, a former secretary at the commission, told the Post.
The victims, who were mostly Maoist cadres, say it is saddening that the incident hasn’t been investigated despite their party being in the government several times. The Maoists have led the government four times while it has been a part of almost all the governments constituted after 2008.
As Dahal enjoys the support of Yadav’s party, Bhattarai is not convinced that his government will dare investigate one of the largest massacres in the country’s history. The victims, however, say they are not going to stop their protest unless they believe there will be a fair investigation.
“We have already waited a long time. We have lost our patience. The crime must be investigated and victims must get justice,” said Upadhyay.