Graft-accused former civil servant found deadPolice believe it could be suicide, making it the third case in two months where people under probe took their own lives.
A former government officer, who was under investigation by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, was found dead in an apparent suicide in Triyuga Municipality, Udayapur, on Sunday.
Police said the body of Hari Prasad Acharya was found hanging from a tree.
The 55-year-old former Nayab Subba (non-gazetted first class officer) was facing investigation along with six others for allegedly transferring public land to private ownership while he was working at the Land Revenue Office in Kalanki, Kathmandu.
The anti-graft agency had filed a graft case against Acharya and the others on May 17.
Acharya’s family had filed a missing person’s report after he went out of contact on Friday.
“We started searching for him immediately after the family informed us that he had been missing since Friday. He was found hanging from a tree at Shikharkhutte forest on Sunday,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ramkrishna KC.Acharya had returned home from Kathmandu on Friday itself. According to his family members, he had left his luggage and mobile phone at home before leaving.
Security personnel recovered a suicide note from Acharya’s pocket at the incident site. The suicide note was dated 6pm, Friday. “I didn’t take even two paisas, but I was made out to be a corrupt man. The CIAA filed a corruption case against me at the Special Court. May the CIAA chief live for 200 years,” said DSP KC, quoting a part of the suicide note.
Acharya’s death is the third in two months among individuals investigated by the CIAA for corruption charges. Acharya was transferred to Ward No. 4 of Triyuga Municipality some six months ago as ward secretary. He had resigned immediately after his transfer.
The CIAA had seized files a month after Acharya was transferred to the Land Revenue Office in Kalanki from Jhapa. The anti-graft body claimed that land revenue officer Shiva Prasad Rimal, Acharya and five others were involved in registering the public land as private property.
Underscoring the reasons behind rise of suicides among individuals facing graft charges, Dr Mita Rana, a clinical psychologist at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, said that one can suffer from depression when he or she faces embezzlement or corruption charges.
“Such allegations are stressful leading to low self-esteem, sometimes even suicide,” said Rana. But the situation is subjective, she says, and that it depends on an individual’s mental health condition, family and societal status.
“Individuals facing criminal charges are also ostracised by our society. If an individual is accused of an offence, the society believes that the person is guilty. This leads to suicide in most individuals accused of corruption,” said Rana.
Rana said that the practice of disclosing the identities of the accused individuals to the media before these cases go to court is wrong. The accused face a media trial before they face the court which leads to depression and thoughts of self-harm. Jamuna Sangraula, another clinical psychologist, said that suicides are a result of high-stress situations and depression.
“Those who cannot cope with the social and familial pressure lose their self- esteem and choose to end their lives to ‘save face’,” said Sangraula. “Family conflict, extramarital affairs, loss of a close family member or huge property loss also trigger thoughts of self-harm in individuals. And these days people being probed for corruption charges are seen to be harbouring such thoughts of self-harm.”
She said that the concerned agency can investigate corruption charges on anyone but chances are there that not all under investigation are found guilty by the law.
(Arjun Poudel contributed reporting from Kathmandu.)