Congress lawmaker Mohammad Aftab Alam arrested in relation to 2008 Rautahat blastThe politician faces charges of burning those injured in the explosion alive in a brick kiln.
A Nepali Congress lawmaker was arrested on Sunday in connection with an explosion and the subsequent murder of at least 23 persons in Rautahat 12 years ago.
Mohammad Aftab Alam was taken into custody for his involvement in a bomb blast in Fradahawa, Rajpur, in the district on April 9, 2008, according to the district police. A police team detained the Nepali Congress leader, who was elected to the federal parliament from Rautahat constituency-2 in the 2017 elections, from near the Sheikh Idris gate in Rautahat.
“Alam was arrested at around 10 am while he was on his way to attend a wedding function,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Nabin Karki.
At least two people were killed when the explosives “targeting the Constituent Assembly elections” suddenly went off. According to eyewitness statements, about two dozen people were injured in the explosion. Alam faces charges of burning the injured alive in a brick kiln "to destroy the evidence".
Two months after the incident, on June 23, 2008, Alam had turned himself in to the police when a first information report was filed identifying him as the primary accused. The Office of the Attorney General, however, on July 14, 2008, decided against pursuing a criminal case against Alam and five others.
Responding to a writ petition filed on behalf of the victims, the Supreme Court in May 2012, four years after the incident, had ordered that the case be moved forward.
"There is enough ground to investigate further and move the case forward," a joint bench of judges Sushila Karki and Bharat Bahadur Karki had observed, ordering the Rautahat District Police Office to arrest those named defendants in the writ.
The court order, however, had remained unimplemented, leading the petitioners to file a complaint with the Judgement Execution Directorate in March this year.
"Not obeying the order would have meant contempt of court. So we arrested Alam today," Superintendent of Police Bhupendra Khatri, chief of the Rautahat District Police, told the Post. Alam will be presented to court on Monday as Sunday was a public holiday, according to police.
On Sunday, Krishna Yadav, the Rautahat district chair of the Nepali Congress, called a press meet to condemn Alam’s arrest.
“Alam’s arrest is unfortunate,” said Yadav. “We demand his release.”
Congress cadres from the district too staged a protest where police fired two rounds of tear gas. Police have intensified security and deployed more personnel in the district headquarters Gaur and Alam’s native village of Fardahawa.
Alam was elected from Rautahat constituency-2 in the first Constituent Assembly elections in 2008. However, he lost the second Constituent Assembly elections in 2013, before going on to win the 2017 legislative elections. Alam served as a minister in the Madhav Kumar Nepal government.