Kummayak Rural Municipality Chairman accused of foeticide claims to be “not absconding”A day after the victim had filed an FIR, the accused had handed over the responsibility to vice-chairperson of the rural municipality and left the district.
A municipal chairman accused of coercing a young pregnant woman into undergoing an abortion in Panchthar district has said that he is not running from the law as reported earlier.
Jaya Bahadur Chemjong, chairman of Kummayak Rural Municipality, has been accused of forcing a 19-year-old Dalit woman to abort her 22-week foetus. On February 5, the woman had filed a case at the District Police Office, accusing Chemjong and six others in the case.
Chemjong had left the district a day after the case was lodged. Him leaving the district abruptly had led the authorities to suspect that he was on the run.
When the Post contacted Chemjong on his phone on Monday, he claimed that he was out of the district for some work and “not on the run”.
“I have heard that a case has been filed against me. I am ready to appear before court and cooperate with the law,” he said over the phone.
The woman has claimed that she was forced into terminating her pregnancy by her husband’s family and Chemjong.
Chemjong claimed that he had never met nor talked with the woman.
“I did not phone the woman to exert pressure on her into undergoing an abortion,” he told the Post. “If found guilty, I am ready to face any punishment.”
Hospital records show that the woman had taken a pregnancy test on January 9. She had terminated her foetus at Samarpit Hospital in Phidim on February 5.
Three health workers at the hospital are currently in police custody for investigation.
The suspects will be presented before the District Attorney’s Office within 25 days, said Deputy Superintendent of Police Siddharaj Neupane. “We are also searching for the absconding suspects,” Neupane added.
According to the statement recorded by the woman with the District Police Office, she had conceived following marriage with a Chhetri man. The couple had married at a local temple in July last year.
According to the Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Rights Act, abortion in general cases is only permitted up to 12 weeks, and it always requires the consent of the pregnant woman.
The Act allows women to terminate pregnancies up to 28 weeks if a doctor decides that their pregnancy poses a serious risk to the mother’s life or could seriously affect the child’s mental and physical health, or if the baby is severely deformed, infected with HIV or has incurable diseases.
regnancies resulting from rape or incest can also be aborted for up to 28 weeks.