Chand cadres often visited slain teacherVillagers say the activists of Communist Party of Nepal used to come to their homes asking for food and money.
At least two people involved in the abduction and killing of school principal Rajendra Kumar Shrestha at Miklajung Rural Municipality in Morang on Tuesday were frequent visitors to the home of the slain teacher, according to some villagers.
Eye witnesses said Shrestha was working in his cowshed on Tuesday morning when the six people, four of them masked, approached him, tied his hands and took him away. Shreshta was found brutally murdered in a nearby forest later that day.
The people who abducted and murdered Shrestha were the cadres of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, and they had long been intimidating the villagers. “When two village youths asked the group why they were taking away Rajendra sir, they replied that they needed to talk to him and they would send him back shortly,” one of the villagers told the Post on Thursday requesting anonymity.
Shrestha’s wife Dhan Kumari had gone to another animal shed, one kilometre away from the village, at the time of the abduction.
“We informed her and what had happened and followed the abductors. We recovered Rajendra sir’s body with his throat slit in a nearby forest. We immediately informed other villagers and the police,” he said.
Shrestha lived in a small settlement called Barkhe with only seven houses. The place is yet to be connected with the national road network. Villagers say since they live in a remote location, the Chand cadres used to visit their homes asking for food and money.
The two abductors, who had not covered their faces, often came to Shrestha’s house, according to Dhan Kumari, Shrestha’s widow.
“They never told us their names. They had come to our house on Monday asking for a goat. But since all the goats were already out grazing, they left without one,” she said. “We have not harmed anyone. We never thought they would commit such a crime.”
Several other villagers confirmed to the Post that the Chand party activists frequented their settlement to get food and money and that they would get angry if they didn’t get what they wanted. They said that the party had once demanded Rs 10,000 donation from Shrestha and the latter had paid them Rs 5,000.
Besides working as a principal at a local community school, Shrestha also grew various vegetables and reared goats.
According to Bhawani Prasad Baral, a local man, Shrestha was very cooperative and played an active role for the development of the settlement.
“He helped people in need. The villagers now feel without their guardian after his gruesome murder,” said Baral.
Kul Prasad Limbu, a province assembly member of Nepal Communist Party representing the area, said that Shrestha was murdered as he was caught between the state and the Chand party.
Whenever security personnel reached the village they would visit Shrestha because he was like the community leader, an educated man.
Limbu claimed Chand’s activists targeted him because he was seen talking to the security personnel.
The people’s representatives and the local people say they had repeatedly asked the home minister to set up a camp of the Armed Police Force, but to no avail.
“The Province Police Office in Biratnagar and the District Administration Office in Morang had asked the home minister to set up a security base in Ramite, but the request was not granted. The tragic incident would not have happened had there been the presence of security personnel in the area,” said Limbu.
Shrestha’s final rites were performed on the bank of Bakraha stream on Thursday.
His family has demanded a fair investigation into the incident and action against the people who abducted and murdered him.
“We could not get security from the state. As a result, my brother got killed,” said Khagendra, Shrestha’s younger brother.
The Chand-led party is active in Ramite in Miklajung Rural Municipality that shares its borders with Ilam, Panchthar and Dhankuta districts. According to the local residents, Ramite area has become an important base for the Chand activists.
The Chand-led party has claimed responsibility for Shrestha’s murder. Issuing a statement on Tuesday night, the party’s Mechi-Koshi bureau said that the party “took action” against Shrestha for being an informant to the police and helping them in the arrest of party leaders and cadres.
Police have made no arrest as of Thursday.
“We have mobilised security personnel in the area to arrest the suspects,” Superintendent of Police Santosh Khadka said.