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Dr. Baburam Bhattarai Stays On-Part 43

Issue 03, January 20, 2013

(The Government Defending The Killers Of Journalist)
Siddhi B Ranjitkar

The police arrested the allegedly killers of the journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh on Saturday, January 5, 2013. Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had allegedly directed the district police through the police headquarters in Kathmandu and the court through the Attorney General to stop the investigation into the murder case stating it was committed by the rebels during the wartime, and it would be dealt with by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provoking the protests from the opposition coalition of the NC and the CPN-UML and the cadres of other organizations affiliated to these two political parties. Vice-president of NC Ram Chandra Poudel flew to Dailekha and demanded the strong actions against the murders. Thus, the NC leader wanted to launch a proxy protest against the current government when they could not receive the support of the people for the protest movement they wanted to launch for displacing the current government.

If you have not forgotten the same NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel and his party had forced the current government to declare Shiva Paudel a martyr shaming all the martyrs that have sacrificed lives for the nation. Shiva Paudel was the leader of a youth organization called Tarundal of the NC but serving jail term in the Chitwan jail allegedly for the murder of one of the rival group called Youth Association Nepal (YAN) of the CPN-UML, and got assaulted by the YAN rival group members also serving for murder in the same jail, and died in the Nero hospital in Kathmandu in December 2011.

The government of Nepal, and the Maoist leaders have been arguing that the alleged wartime crimes committed by both the Maoists and the Nepal Army personnel are to be dealt with by the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Commission on Enforced Disappearance’ mentioned in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) the government of Nepal and the Maoists reached in 2006 ending the decade-long conflict. However, the logic is that nobody can kill any innocent civilian or a journalist even during the war with impunity.

The current protestors are engaged in the partisan politics rather than non-partisan human rights activities. The NC and the CPN-UML leaders should know that about 200 of the so-called human rights activists, lawyers and journalists protesting against journalist Dekendra Thapa killed in Dailekh would not bring down the current government. So, they need to encompass all the human rights activists, lawyers and journalist if they really want the power now the Maoists and Madheshis have been holding on to.

Nepalese non-partisan human rights activists, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the international human rights organizations have been protesting not only against the promotion of the allegedly perpetrators of human rights violence but also against the government not taking legal actions against them. Similarly, they have been demanding the legal actions against the politicians that have been the perpetrators of human rights violence, and have been enjoying not only impunity but also holding even the high positions in the party and even getting into the ministerial offices. However, the current protestors have nothing to say about these serious human rights violence.

Immediately after the death of the alleged-murderer Shiva Paudel on Saturday morning, December 17, 2011, the cadres of the NC went on a rampage shutting down the entire country causing unbelievable suffering to long distance travelers particularly the sick and old people. Setting aside the democratic principles and norms they claimed so dear to them, the NC leaders and cadres have started off criminal activities such as burning tires on the streets, damaging vehicles and kicking cyclists that have defied their call for shutting down everything. They went on doing so for several days until the government agreed to meet their demands. Thus, the NC leaders forced the current government to withdraw all the criminal charges against Shiva Paudel, declare him a martyr, and pay one million rupees to his family as the compensation despite the opposition of six political parties in Chitwan.

Concerning the shutdown called by the NC, the then US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H. DeLisi wrote in his facebook the following: I think my position on the bandh is pretty clear. I believe that the bandh culture should be seen as Nepal's past....not its present and certainly not its future. As for whether Mr. Paudel is a martyr, I leave that to Nepalis to address. The human and economic costs of bandhs are, unfortunately, significant for citizens, businesses, and even diplomatic missions – all of whom are affected. The city is at a standstill with peoples’ lives disrupted, access to medical care impeded, and productivity lost. I know of one poor woman who had to carry her sick child to the hospital, walking through the morning cold because stick-wielding youths would not allow vehicles to operate. These same youth have threatened shopkeepers, forcing them to close their businesses and lose the day’s income. I will be interested to see if the organizers of this bandh can explain to the people how their activities are protecting democratic rights and whether their political agenda is worth these costs to society. How is the bandh affecting you?

“We have said before, and say again, that we do not condone the use of intimidation and violence by any party. We hope that the NC leadership will reconsider its decision and instead choose a path for peaceful protest that does not restrict freedom of movement for others and that is consistent with the values of a party that has been an advocate for democracy for decades,” DeLisi said in his facebook.

The U.S. Embassy and the EU have said that they are not for issuing visa to the organizers of such bandh (shutdown). Some of the EU members have said that they are not going to support such organizations if they indulge in shutting down the country and so on. In response to the announcements of the embassies, spokesman for the NC Arjun Narsingh KC has said that the NC would not stop the shutdown for fear of losing visa, according to the Nepalese media reports of that time.

The current protestors aligned with the NC and the CPN-UML particularly the human rights activists, journalists, lawyers and civil society leaders have charged the Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai with instructing the police and the Attorney General to withdraw the murder case against the allegedly killers of the journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh but the prime minister denied issuing any directives to the police and the Attorney General stating the Nepalese media distorted his statement. The local police in Dailekh denied receiving any instructions from the high-ups. The Maoists charged with the murder of journalist Thapa are still in the police custody and the District Court has extended the time for keeping them in the police custody for another seven days investigating the case, and added twelve more days for keeping them in custody for investigation.

Everybody needs to oppose anything that goes against the human rights and the rule of law, no doubt about that. So, the protest of human rights activists, journalists, lawyers and so on against the alleged instructions the prime minister gave to the police and attorney to suspend the investigation into the alleged murders is the most logical one but the so-called human rights activists, journalists and even lawyers are belonging to the organizations affiliated to the NC and the CPN-UML. The nature of the protest has indicated that it might be the proxy protest the NC and the CPN-UML have been saying to launch to dislodge the current government. If it is so, the very purpose the human rights activists, journalists and lawyers have been fighting for would be defeated and the protest unfortunately would turn into the political movement for grabbing the power, the power junkies have wanted.

These guys protesting against the prime minister’s alleged instructions to stop the investigation into the murder of journalist Thapa have not protested against the political parties including the NC and the CPN-UML and the government that have demanded the immediate release of the Colonel Kumar Lama arrested in the UK for human rights violence in Nepal. How these human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers could overlook such thing happening in the country if they are real human rights defenders?

We need to fight for setting up the ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances’ as foreseen in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the government of Nepal had reached with the then CPN-Maoist, and complete the peace process, and heal the wounds of the victims of the war. However, we have seen that none of the political parties has been serious about setting up these two vital commissions.

The draft bill on these two commissions the political leaders have agreed on favors the perpetrators of human rights violence. So, the national and international human rights activists have been opposing the passing of the draft bill on these two commissions with such provisions. However, the current human rights activists, journalists and lawyers rightly protesting against the alleged intervention of the prime minister in the investigation into the murderers of the journalist Thapa in Dailekh have nothing to say anything about the vital things of the draft bill on these two commission but focused on a single case indicating their protest is a strong motivation for political power grab rather than for defending the human rights in general.

The strange thing is the current protestors so concerned for the murder of Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh have not had even a word against the government not implementing so many recommendations made by the National Human rights Commission (NHRC), and they did not take the issue of the government reducing the autonomy of the NHRC, and of the government sending the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) back in other words not extending its term of office in Nepal.

These guys never spoke out against the incidents of caste-based discrimination and gender-based violence not to mention they marching on the streets in protest. Now, the question is why they are continuing the protest against the alleged intervention of the prime minister in investigation into the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh, and putting all their energy on this sole case. If it were not for putting the NC president Sushil Koirala in the office of prime minister then for what, as they were not fighting for overall human rights violence but for a single case hoping to bring down the current government.

Don’t run after a bone you will get after tearing down the current government but let us go for a large meal every Nepalis will get institutionalizing the federalism and federal states? You have seen that the NC and the CPN-UML have been against institutionalizing the federalism and identity-based federal states, and they have been lingering on not promulgating a new constitution, and they let the CA dissolve before promulgating a new constitution, as the majority of the CA members are for the federalism and federal states.  Everybody knows that the CA was elected in 2008 for crafting a new constitution and promulgating it. What the Nepalis have gained from letting the CA dissolved, you need to understand and use your energy for electing a new CA for completing the crafting of a new constitution rather than wasting your precious energy on tearing down the current government that you probably would hardly succeed.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on January 8, 2013 said that the arrest of five Maoist cadres on charge of murdering journalist Dekendra Thapa was part of the plots that 'are being hatched to derail the peace process'. Police, after eight years of Thapa's murder, on Saturday, January 5, 2013 arrested five Maoist cadres in Dailekh. But THT correspondent from Dailekh reported that interrogation has been halted for the last two days after the government lawyer in the district and the police 'received threats'. Speaking at a book launch event, Prime Minister Bhattarai said the government 'is not involved in the arrest' of the murder accused and that the government has no policy to arrest those accused of committing crimes during the time of conflict. "The incident of reviving the conflict-era cases is nothing but an attempt to derail the peace process. My government is directed by the Interim Constitution and Comprehensive Peace Agreement, according to which the incidents that took place between February 13, 1996, and November 21, 2006, will be addressed through transitional justice mechanisms, which will be formed soon. Such cases cannot be prosecuted in any court," said Prime Minister Bhattarai. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 8, 2013)

Police have stopped interrogating five Maoist cadres who were arrested for murdering journalist Dekendra Thapa following the directives from the Office of the Attorney General and Nepal Police Headquarters, sources said. The district government lawyer and local police 'have received threats' not to initiate legal process against the murder-accused. Sources said Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai issued directives to OAG and police headquarters to stop interrogation. Five-murder accused, arrested on Saturday, were remanded to five days in custody on Sunday. Lakshiram Gharti: one of the accused, during the interrogation had admitted to the crime, saying he and others had buried Thapa alive. Police were planning to record statements of other accused on Monday and Tuesday, which could not take place. "Government lawyer Dambar Kafle received threat from 'higher authorities' after Lakshiram admitted to killing the journo", the sources said, adding that DSP Sharada Prasad Chaudhary and Inspector Binod Sharma were also asked by 'higher authorities' to halt the interrogation. DSP Chaudhary declined to comment but said 'some unfavorable situation' had arisen. "Police will not work under any pressure," the DSP said. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 8, 2013)

In a statement released in Kathmandu on January 9, 2013 concerning the prime minister’s statement released on January 8, 2013 that the arrest of the five Maoist cadres on the charge of murdering journalist Dekendra Thapa was part of the plot to overturn the peace process, NC said that whilst the murderer had confessed that journalist Dekendra Thapa was murdered during the armed conflict and was buried alive, the direction from the Prime Minister to stop the interrogation was against human rights. When the investigation into the ghastly incident of Dekendra Thapa’s murder was going at a steady pace, the government lawyer in the district and the police had received threats against continuing the investigation by the UCPN-Maoist cadres ordering them to halt the investigation, which the NC highly disapproved, the statement further stated. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 9, 2013)

Locals, members of Civil Service Society, students and journalists have staged demonstration in the Dailekh Bazaar since early morning on January 9, 2013 demanding the restart of the interrogation of the alleged murderers of journalist Dekendra Thapa after the halt for the last two days. The government lawyer in the district and police apparently received threats. Locals had staged a sit-in in front of the District Police Office and imposed traffic shutdown for two hours. The protestors also blasted the Prime Minister Bhattarai for his statement that the arrest of the five Maoist cadres on the charge of murdering journalist Dekendra Thapa was part of the plot to disrupt the peace process. During the demonstration, the protestors chanted slogans against the Prime Minister and demanded his resignation. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 9, 2013)

Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 ruled out the media reports’ claim that his directive halted the interrogation into the alleged five murderers of journalist Dekendra Thapa. The Prime Minister made it clear that he intended to say that the problem couldn’t be solved through the individual arrest but that the entire issues of the conflict era should be re-examined through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Nepalese media have on Wednesday quoted the Prime Minister as saying his cadres’ arrest will affect the peace process while addressing a function in Kathmandu on Tuesday. In a press statement, the Prime Minister’s secretariat informed that no one-Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and security bodies and Maoists can be untainted if the individual arrest would be made for the wrong doings during the war period. Prime Minister is committed to end the impunity and booking the alleged assassins, the statement reads. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 9, 2013)

The ruling UCPN-Maoist has formally condemned the arrest of five Maoist cadres on charge of murdering journalist Dekendra Thapa in a statement issued on Wednesday, January 9, 2013. The party has said that the arrest of the alleged assassins of Thapa, and the arrest of the incumbent Nepal Army Colonel Kumar Lama in Britain were latest part of a ploy of anti national and international forces to disturb the peace process and the constitution writing. The party charged that both the arrests were preplanned attempting to derail the peace process going against the spirit and sentiment of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and the Interim Constitution of 2007. “Party has taken these incident seriously that occurred at a time when the nation is making efforts to resolve the Human Rights violation cases by both the then government and rebels forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” the statement reads. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 9, 2013)

A civil society group including the human rights activists has condemned Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's remarks that the arrest of the Maoist cadres accused of murdering Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa is against the peace process, and also condemned the instruction the prime minister gave to local authorities not to go ahead with the investigation breaching the rule of law and further promoting the culture of impunity. They also demanded that the Prime Minister Bhattarai withdraw his irresponsible order to the local authorities and apologize to the countrymen. They also demanded the guarantee of security to journalists and human rights defenders. (Source:, January 9, 2013). The irony is that these human rights activists and civil society leaders demanding the rule of law have asked to act on an individual case rather than asking for taking up all wartime human rights violence cases in general by setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions will conduct a 'special review' of Nepal's National Human Rights Commission, the committee has said. The international body is conducting a special review of NHRC’s status in response to a newly enacted law, NHRC Secretary Bishal Khanal told Last year, President Ram Baran Yadav signed into law a new National Human Rights Commission Act that rights activists say has severely dealt a blow to the commission. Activists have been saying that the commission, which was established following the Paris principles, no longer follows the guidelines. The review will take place in Geneva on May 13-17, 2013, the committee said in its website calling on local and international non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations to submit reports on the NHRC to the committee. Currently, NHRC has been accredited with ‘A status’, meaning full compliance with the Paris Principles. However, the review is likely to downgrade NHRC to a ‘B status’. According to the coordinating Committee, only ‘A status’ institutions are entitled to vote or hold office on the ICC or its regional groups. Those with lower status can only participate as observers. According to the new law, the government approves the budget of the NHRC and controls its fund. So, the government needs to approve all its expenses and any change in the budget headings. Furthermore, if the NHRC wants to expand its presence in new geographic areas, it needs to get approval from the Ministry of Finance. “The government decided not to provide an extension to the local office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2007 stating that it will boost the capacity of NHRC,” said a rights activist declining to be identified. “However, the government clipped the commission’s wings with the new Act.” (Source:, January 10, 2013). The entire human rights activists and the civil society leaders, lawyers, and journalists should raise their voices against such law that limits the activities of the NHRC.

Local chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and the civil society have enforced shutdown of all businesses in the Dailekh district headquarters on January 10, 2013 demanding justice for slain journalist Dekendra Thapa a few days after the media reports have it that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai ordered police to halt an on-going investigation into the murder. Police had earlier arrested five Maoist cadres in connection with the murder. Media reports said that the accused confessed burying Thapa alive. Prime Minister Bhattarai has been maintaining that only the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should deal with wartime cases such as Thapa’s murder. Similarly, the UCPN-Maoist has termed the arrest of Maoist cadres as a breach of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and demanded that its cadres are freed at the earliest. The protestors are demanding that the murder probe continue and those involved in the act are brought to book. Meanwhile, the Dailekh District Court has given local police seven more days to investigate the murder case after the accused were presented in the court on Thursday, January 10, 2013. Police had sought remand for the accused: Lachhi Ram Gharti, Jaya Bahadur Gharti, Nirak Gharti Magar, Lari Lal Pun and Bir Bahadur K.C to complete the investigation. Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, the UCPN-Maoist and the CPN-Maoist have objected to their arrest insisting that the trial on the conflict-era murder undermined the peace process. However, their objection has met with fierce criticism from the human rights groups and the media community. (Source:, January 10, 2013)

In their respective statement released in Kathmandu on Wednesday, January 9, 2013, the opposition parties such as NC and CPN-UML have expressed serious objection to the order allegedly Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has given to stop the investigation into the insurgency-era murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa by Maoist activists. Both the parties have also criticized the statement of Prime Minister Bhattarai that the arrest of five Maoist cadres in Dailekh over the murder of journalist Thapa in 2004, was “part of a plot to derail the peace process,” and called on the authorities to continue with their investigation to book the murderers. The NC said that when one of the Maoist cadres arrested in the case has already confessed to the police that they had murdered journalist Thapa by burying him alive following two days of torture, the direction from the Prime Minister to stop the investigation was against human rights. The NC also expressed objection to the UCPN-Maoist cadres threatening the government lawyer and the police in Dailekh if they continue the investigation into the journalist murder case. Similarly, the CPN-UML also criticized Prime Minister Bhattarai for his attempts to halt investigation into the murder of the Dailekh-based journalist by the Maoist cadres. (Source:, January 10, 2013)

Representatives of the civil society including human rights activists, and journalists held a protest rally at the southern entrance of Singha Durbar (state secretariat) in Kathmandu on Thursday, January 10, 2013 demanding stern actions against those involved in the killing of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa. Carrying placards, the protestors shouted slogans against Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai for his reaction to the arrest of the murder-accused. They also urged the government to take action against the murderers, end the culture of impunity and guarantee security to journalists. Nepal Press Union president Kiran Pokharel said that the statement made by the Prime Minister was shameful. Civil society leader Dr. Sundarmani Dixit said that Prime Minister's statement was clearly aimed at protecting the murderers. The human rights activists and journalists speaking at the rally also said that the Prime Minister owed a public apology for saying that the arrest of the accused was against the peace process. (Source:, January 10, 2013)

The Dailekh District Court on January 10, 2013 extended the remand of the five people accused of the murder of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa during the conflict period by seven more days. The Dailekh District Court has extended the remand of all the five accused in the killing by seven days and recording of their statement has started at the Government Attorney's Office. Police Inspector Binod Sharma who sought the extension of their remand said that he did not receive any kind of pressure whatsoever. He said the investigation process has been initiated in an impartial manner. The five accused have been kept at the District Police Office, Dailekh since the last six days in connection with investigation. The civil society, journalists and the different political parties including the NC, the CPN-UML, the Rastriya Janamorcha, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, the Rsatriya Janashakti Party among others based in the district have been holding demonstrations in the district calling for impartial investigations into the killing of journalist Dekendra Thapa. The civil society organizations and business community in the district have shut the district headquarters since 11 A.M. on January 10, 2013 protesting the delay in taking statements from the accused. The court had said that statements of the accused would be recorded from 10 A.M. but it was delayed due to various kinds of pressures. (Source: RSS/, January 10, 2013)

Stating that the murder case filed in Dailekh can be transferred to another place if it faces any obstacles, Senior Advocate Shambu Thapa asked the Bar Association, an umbrella organization of the lawyers, to send a high level panel for the probe. Speaking to the media people at Reporters’ Club on Friday, January 11, 2013 Senior Advocate Shambu Thapa stressed the need for rejecting any visa by the international community to the Prime Minister and his deputies including Attorney General as a pressure to eliminate the impunity. He also urged the journalists to boycott the news related to the Prime Minister and ministers. Another senior advocate Harihar Dahal blamed the Maoist party for making the peace process a bargaining tool. He demanded to sue the Prime Minister and Attorney General with the contempt of court claiming that they made contempt of court directing to halt the interrogation process. Senior advocate Bishwa Kanta Mainali termed the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa, who was unarmed during his murder, a serious crime and said that international laws related to war crimes will be attracted to in such case. Senior advocate Bal Krishna Naupane opined to request the United Nations for the investigation into Human Rights violation cases of the conflict-hit period stating that these kinds of cases had occurred extensively. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 11, 2013)

The Dailekh district committee of CPN-Maoist has dubbed the arrest of the accused murderers of journalist Dekendra Thapa as the breach of the Comprehensive Peace Accord, and urged the authorities to immediately release “all the comrades.” On the sidelines of the ongoing seventh national congress of the CPN-Maoist, the Dailekh committee of the party held a press conference at Kamaladi in Kathmandu on Saturday morning, January 12, 2013, and accused the government of violating the peace agreement, and of the government coming into conflict with the party making the arrests in the conflict-era case. In the news conference held this morning, Secretary to the Dailekh district committee Ganga Bahadur Gharti aka Gajendra Rai said that the arrests have violated the peace agreement that has made provisions for overseeing such incidents caused both by the state and the then rebels. In a statement distributed to the media corps, Gharti claimed that the “human rights of the detained comrades have been violated by not letting them meet with anybody” and the four of them —Jaya Bahadur Shahi, Harilal Pun Magar, Nirak Gharti Magar and Bir Bahadur Khatri—“were framed by lodging a supplementary FIR after their dramatic arrest.” Referring to the media reports in which Lakshiram has confessed of killing Thapa and repented on his involvement in the cold-blooded murder, Gharti charged that it was a breach of secrecy and against the law. He further claimed that there is no basis to believe the alleged statement of the accused the way the media brought out. Contrary to the media reports that said the Maoists have been intimidating the local authorities, rights activists, journalists and the victim’s family to withdraw the case, Gharti claimed that his party has neither been involved in any intimidation or activity that would impose negative impacts on the society nor it has issued any threat. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 12, 2013)

Speaking at an interaction held by Television Editors’ Guild in Kathmandu on January 12, 2013, editors and senior journalists demanded that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Attorney General Mukti Pradhan are arrested and put on trial for their ‘irresponsible’ directives to the Office of Dailekh District Attorney, and the police to halt investigation into the suspects of murdering journalist Dekendra Thapa. They called the bid to obstruct prosecution of persons facing criminal charge was a criminal offence itself. “This is why the Prime Minister and Attorney General should be arrested through the court,” the journos argued. They said the President should seek clarification from Prime Minister Bhattarai and Attorney General Pradhan as to why they had attacked press freedom, rule of law and democracy. Yubaraj Ghimire argued that the Prime Minister and Attorney General were liable to face criminal charge for taking exception to the arrest of those accused of murdering Thapa when the suspects had admitted to killing the journalist. “They should be arrested now,” he said. Harihar Birahi remarked that Bhattarai and Pradhan had lost moral ground to remain in power as they had made a mockery of the rule of law. Former presidents of Federation of Nepalese Journalists Suresh Acharya, Taranath Dahal, Dharmendra Jha and editors of print and electronic media stressed the need for all parties, journalists, professionals and democratic forces to take up the issue for stern agitation. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 12, 2013)

The latest report of Amnesty International on Nepal states that the government’s failure to punish human rights violators has aided to the environment of impunity. “Nepal’s failure to punish perpetrators of grave human rights violations and crimes under international law committed during the armed conflict has created an environment where violations continue to be committed with impunity, said Amnesty International in the report titled “Nepal the search for justice”. Similarly, it states that political parties’ failure to promulgate a new constitution has worsened the problem of governance and rule of law. The Government's decision to withdraw criminal cases against those with political affiliations has sent a message that there will be no consequences for their crime, sexual and domestic violence; they could go free with impunity, reads the report. Likewise, AI in the report has said that the departure of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal has created significant advocacy and protection vacuum. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 12, 2013). Are the Nepalese journalists, lawyers and civil society leaders protesting against the prime minister’s statement in question concerned with such serious matter? The answer is certainly not because concerning with such serious matters these guys will not have any bones to chew.

The Democratic Lawyers Association (DLA) and the Nepal Press Union (NPU) filed a writ against Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Attorney General Mukti Pradhan and other top government officials accusing them of the contempt of court for their alleged intervention in the prosecution of the Maoist cadres accused of the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh in 2004. Lawyers Kamal Prasad Itani on behalf of DLA and Santosh Neupane on behalf of NPU have demanded maximum punishment to the defendants such as Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai, AG Pradhan, Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gacchedar, Inspector Genera of Nepal Police Kuber Singh Rana, District Attorney of Dailekh Dambar Prasad Kafle and Chief of District Police Office Sharada Prasad Chaudhary. The plaintiffs have referred to the media reports that claimed the country's executive head ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Office of the Attorney General to thwart the statement of the five accused and arrested in Dailekh. They argued that Attorney General Pradhan's written directive and the police administration's move to put the case on hold showed that all the defendants are involved in the obstruction of the criminal prosecution in the case at the Surkhet Appellate Court. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 13, 2013)

The chief political advisor to the Prime Minister, Devendra Paudel, on Sunday, January 13, 2013 warned the opposition parties that the government would not keep quiet if they took to agitation over, what he said, an individual’s murder. He was referring to the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh in 2004 that provoked the widespread criticism following the government’s intent to abort the investigation into the case and subsequent prosecution against the alleged murderers after five of them were arrested recently. He argued that incidents occurred during the decade-long insurgency should be resolved through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the prosecution against the alleged murderers was tantamount to the discontinuation of the peace process. Speaking at the Reporters’ Club in Kathmandu on January 13, 2013, the UCPN-Maoist leader-cum-advisor to the prime minister said that NC and CPN-UML leaders were in the government during the conflict era; so, they would also be dragged to investigation if cases like the one in which a journalist was murdered in 2004 were investigated. Responding to a query regarding the Prime Minister’s alleged orders to halt the investigation in the Dailekh incident, Paudel said that the Maoists laid down arms as per the peace agreement, and the Prime Minister and Attorney General would not remain silent over the activities that are against the peace process. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 13, 2013)

A team of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) has left for Dailekh to assess the ongoing investigation into the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa. The mission led by FNJ president Shiva Gaunle includes central member Damodar Timilsina, advisor Poshan K.C and mid-western region coordinator and central member Surya Mani Gautam. The team will interact with the victim's family, local journalists and administrative officials over the murder probe. The umbrella body of the journalists has lamented the statement of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, UCPN-Maoist, and CPN-Maoist leaders that the arrest of the murder-accused breaches the comprehensive peace agreement. The federation has said that fair probe must be guaranteed and that the murderers must be punished. (Source:, January 13, 2013)

Speaking at the function held to mark the 37th anniversary of Mahendra Balbikash Secondary School at Bhalayakharka in Lamjung on January 13, 2013, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said that reviving conflict-era cases would bring all the leaders of NC and CPN-UML under the jurisdiction of investigation. Prime Minister Bhattarai went on to say if conflict-era cases were revived, CPN-UML and NC would have to take responsibility for killing 15,000 people and for the 1,300 disappeared during the war, as they were at the helm then. He said booking some individuals for the sake of political retaliation would not solve the problem. A visibly angry prime minister said, “Those who killed 15,000 and disappeared 1,300 and announced bounty of Rs 50,000 for beheading Maoist cadres are walking with their heads high. If we file cases, no one from the NC and CPN-UML will be spared.” Prime Minister Bhattarai further warned that it would not be justifiable to dub the Maoist sacrifice during the war as murder. Defending his remarks, the prime minister said opposition parties had charged him with trying to save murderers when he had floated the concept of investigating war-era cases through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He accused NC and CPN-UML of thwarting his party’s repeated efforts to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 13, 2013)

Nepalese journalists have continued their protests seeking legal actions against the alleged murderers of journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekha. On Monday, January 14, 2013, journalists picketed the prime minister’s official residence at Baluwatar in Kathmandu and staged a sit-in. At the sit-in led by Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Kathmandu Chapter, journalists reiterated they would not withdraw protests unless the government takes action against the murderers of journalist Dekendra Thapa in 2004. Speaking at the sit-in, General Secretary to Nepal Bar Association (NBA) Bijaya Mishra assured journalists that the NBA will assist them in leading the legal front for taking action against the culprits. Vice-president of FNJ Yashoda Timilsina said that the protest would continue until the government takes action against the culprits. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 14, 2013)

Human rights activists, journalists and lawyers on January 14, 2013 said that the Dailekh district administration was concerned about the unconstitutional intervention from the government in the journalist Dekendra Thapa murder case. “Despite the government’s unconstitutional intervention, the local authorities including government attorney and police officers are committed to upholding justice to the victim,” Sushil Pyakurel, a former commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission said today. “The local administration is feared of the possible fallout that whether the government does not ensure justice to the victims, and is set to free the accused,” he said. The fact-finding team comprising Pyakurel, journalists Kanak Mani Dixit and Kundan Aryal today completed their mission. According to Pyakurel, the local administration has expressed its concern about the security of journalists because they are agitated by the obstruction from the government. Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit said, “Justice shall prevail, and the whole society must be assured that justice would be provided to all the victims of the insurgency-era.” He went on to say, “Victims must get justice soon, and they should get when the perpetrators are alive. Since the locals at Dailekh have not forgotten the crime in eight years, the killers of Maina Sunuwar, Muktinath Adhikary, Guru Prasad Luitel, Arjun Lama and Doramba killing must be reopened.” Former attorney general Yuba Raj Sangroula termed the intervention of prime minister and attorney general as unconstitutional. “The attorney general cannot instruct any investigation officer on any matter,” he said. Human rights advocate Govinda Bandi described the intervention from the government of sending the criminal justice system of the country into a coma, adding, if such obstruction continues then the country’s criminal justice system will be dead. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 15, 2013)

President of Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Shiva Gaunle on January 15, 2013 said journalists did not feel safe in Dailekh and demanded special security to them. A three-member taskforce including Gaunle had been in Dailekh to study the current investigation into slain-journalist Dekendra Thapa. Thapa was kidnapped by Maoist cadres on June 26, 2004 and murdered on August 11. In a news conference held on the FNJ premises in Kathmandu on January 15, 2013 to make public the findings of the Dailekh mission, Gaunle said after investigation into the Thapa’s murder case began in Dailekh, other working journalists in the area felt unsafe and needed special security while performing their duties. Earlier, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had tried to stall the investigation process stating that raising such conflict-era cases would disturb the peace process. To make things worse, the Office of the Attorney General had sent a directive last Friday to the Dailekh Police and the District Office of Attorney directing them not to proceed with the legal action in the Thapa’s murder case. Following the written directive from the Office of AG, the police had stalled recording statements of the Maoist cadres arrested on charges of murdering journalist Thapa. Gaunle said despite having enough evidence to punish the accused, police personnel were in dilemma due to direct interference of PM and AG in the Thapa’s murder case. “Individual journalist’s murder and abduction cases that took place during the insurgency should also be brought under the ambit of criminal charges,” he demanded. The FNJ president termed the PM’s statement that conflict-era cases would ruin the peace process as ‘illogical’. He went on to say that the peace process was one of the prime agendas of the media. Gaunle said the PM should not undermine the media’s contribution to the logical conclusion of the peace process. He reiterated that any journalist’s murder either by the state or by the rebel group was inexcusable. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 15, 2013)

A single bench of Justice Kalyan Shrestha of the Supreme Court on January 15, 2013 directed the government and the attorney general not to obstruct the interrogation and prosecution of five Maoist cadres arrested on charge of killing Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa stating the obstruction from the government and attorney general in the ongoing investigation into the journalist murder case was unconstitutional. The bench told the authorities such as Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, AG Mukti Narayan Pradhan, Minister for Home Affairs Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar and Inspector General of Nepal Police Kuber Singh Rana not to impede the interrogation and prosecution of the murder accused. The apex court also told District Police and Office of the District Attorney in Dailekh not to halt the judicial process and added that as per the law, it was imperative to issue such directive whenever ‘SC receives information about illegal obstruction in a case from anyone, anywhere’. The bench ruled that citing absence of transitional justice mechanism to look into conflict-time cases was not sufficient to obstruct an ongoing process under the criminal justice system ensured by the constitution. The apex court noted that the order issued by the AG to the district police and the district attorney through Police Headquarters and Appellate Court Government Attorney’s Office, respectively, was against the Interim Constitution and the adopted principle of criminal justice. “It is obvious that justice dispensation process will be completed when the investigation is completed. The investigation process cannot be carried out with an intention to get results either in favor or against, and such instruction cannot be given at a time when the interrogation process is already well under way,” ruled the bench. The bench stated that the State Cases Act of 1992 has ensured interrogation of the accused in presence of the government attorney following the completion of the police investigation. “But the order issued by AG Pradhan has created a situation in which investigation could be carried out in the absence of the government attorney, which is not only erroneous but also illegal,” concluded the bench. (Source: The Himalayan Times of January 15, 2013)

Dailekh police are all set to resume the interrogation of two of the five Maoist cadres accused of murdering journalists Dekendra Thapa. According to Inspector Binod Sharma, police will start recording statements of the rest of the murder accused from Wednesday. District Attorney Dambar Kafle confirmed with THT that the judicial proceedings will resume from Wednesday (January 15, 2013) in line with the Supreme Court’s Tuesday’s order. Sources said Dailekh police are set to take the murder accused to district court on Wednesday to seek more time for investigation. Lakshiram Gharti, Harilal Pun Magar, Bir Bahadur KC, Nir Bahadur Gharti Magar and Jay Bahadur Shahi were arrested on January 5 on charge of murdering journalist Thapa. Police had stopped the interrogation following the order from the government and the attorney general to halt the process. Police are yet to record the statements of Jaya Bahadur Shahi and Harilal Pun Magar. (Source: The Himalayan Times, January 15, 2013)

Civil Society members have sought the resignation of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Attorney General Mukti Narayan Pradhan for obstructing investigation and legal actions against those accused in the Dekendra Thapa murder case after the Supreme Court order rendered their directives illegal. “They both must resign if they have minimum standard of ethics,” Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Chairman, Informal Sector Service Centre, told ‘The Himalayan Times’. Pyakurel also alleged Pradhan had supported the perpetrators despite his constitutional duty to plead on behalf of victims as the State Cases Act of 1990 supports victims and sets it as the duty of government attorneys to argue for justice for them. (Source: ‘HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE’, January 15, 2013)

Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gacchedar has vowed that the government would take action against those involved in the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa. Receiving a memorandum submitted by the FNJ Bhaktapur Chapter on Tuesday (January 15, 2013), DPM Gacchedar said, "Government abiding by the rule of law, arrested the murder accused and initiated investigation. So, the murderers would not be spared." DPM Gacchedar said that the remand was extended to continue recording of statements and once the investigation completes; necessary actions would be initiated. Gacchedar made it clear that he had not given any direction to halt the interrogation of the murder accused. "I'm worried over growing impunity," he said, "Now, impunity must come to an end." Earlier, a protest rally demanding actions against the killer of journalist Thapa was held under the coordination of the Bhaktapur Chapter of the FNJ at the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. (Source: RSS/, January 15, 2013)

Speaking at a news conference held by the Revolutionary Journalists Association of Tanahun in Damauli on January 15, 2013, Finance Minister Barshaman Pun said that serious cases of the insurgency era could be resolved by forming the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Finance Minister Pun said, “Incidents of rape and murders were perpetrated from both the state and the then rebel sides. So it is better if we can resolve such cases through the commission.” Commenting on the controversial remarks by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattaria to halt the ongoing interrogation against journalist Thapa’s murderers, he said, “About 14,000 people were killed during the conflict-era. If we were to see each of such cases individually then even the government won’t be spared.” (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 15, 2013)

The Dailekh district court on January 17, 2013 remanded five persons accused of murdering journalist Dekendra Thapa to 12 more days of police custody. “After the apex court ruled on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, the attorney general’s directive to halt the investigation illegal, we sought remand extension to resume the investigation process,” investigation officer Inspector Binod Sharma told reporters in Dailekha on January 17, 2013. He added that recording of the statements of Jaya Bahadur Shahi and Harilal Pun was completed yesterday and they were presented at the district attorney’s office today for the verification of their statements. A police team led by Inspector Sharma will visit the murder site at Dwari VDC on Friday, January 18, 2013. Five accused such as CPN-Maoist Bheri-Karnali state committee members Jaya Bahadur Shahi and Hariral Pun Magar, district committee senior secretary Nirak Gharti Magar, district member Lakshiram Gharti and UCPN-Maoist district member Bir Bahadur KC remanded to an extended police custody. Federation of Nepalese Journalists’ central member Suryamani Gautam has demanded that the police should soon book the rest of the persons involved in the murder. Four accused such as the then Maoist militia commander Bam Bahadur Khadka (Mukti), militia assistant commanders Bam Bahadur Khadka (Arun), Bhaktiram Lamichhane Magar and Keshav Khadka involved in torturing Thapa for two days before killing him are yet to be booked. Dekendra’s wife Laxmi had filed an FIR at the district police office on August 28, 2008, against Mukti, Arun, Keshav Khadka and Lakshiram Gharti Magar accusing them of her husband’s murder. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 17, 2013)

The EU, Norway and Switzerland have exerted pressure on the government “not to shield human rights violators” from the due course of law. In a joint statement issued in Kathmandu on January 17, 2013, the local missions of Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, UK, and the EU delegation along with Norway and Switzerland stated, “crime must not be condoned”. “Whether their focus is violence against women or conflict-era human rights cases, the message is clear: crime must not be condoned; victims must not be ignored; and perpetrators must not be shielded from the due process of the law,” they said. They have also urged the government to order independent and impartial investigation into all credible allegations. “Where sufficient evidence exists, cases can and should be prosecuted in the courts independently of the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms. Such Commissions complement but do not replace criminal proceedings,” they stated. “We again make clear that granting the Commission authority to confer amnesties for serious human rights abuses would not only breach international law but also would fundamentally weaken the foundations for a lasting peace in Nepal,” the EU community reiterated in the statement. (Source: HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE, January 17, 2013)

Talking to the reporters at the Reporters’ Club, spokesman for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Gauri Pradhan today said that the accused of serious Human Rights violation during the conflict period could bring to justice in the international arena if the government were to set them free with impunity; nobody should take it as the foreign intervention in the sovereign country. (Source: THT ONLINE, January 18, 2013).

Spokesman for the Supreme Court of Nepal Shrikant Paudel said that a single bench of judge Sushila Karki today issued an order to Prime Minister and Attorney General to appear in the court with explanations concerning the instruction given to stop the investigation into the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa in Dailekh within seven days. The Supreme Court judge has done so hearing on the petition filed by lawyers Kamal Prasad Itani on behalf of Democratic Lawyer Association and Santosh Neupane on behalf of Nepal Press Union (NPU) on January 13 accusing the Prime Minister and Attorney General of contempt of court. (Source: THT ONLINE, and, January 18, 2013).


NEPAL: Prime Minister's order to halt investigation into the abduction, torture and murder of a journalist is of serious concern.
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-003-2013
January 10, 2013

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) condemns reports that the government of Nepal has been putting pressure on the Attorney General Office and Police Headquarters to halt investigations into the abduction and murder of a journalist, Dekendra Raj Thapa, by Maoist cadres in Dhailekh District in 2004, at the heart of the decade long internal conflict. His body was exhumed from a jungle on June 26, 2008 and in August 2008 his wife filed a First Information Report on the abduction and murder of her husband. The police dragged their feet and did not conduct an investigation under the legally fallacious pretext that the case would be dealt with by yet to be established transitional justice mechanisms. Following a writ of mandamus issued by the Appellate Court of Surkhet District, the police eventually arrested five of the accused on January 5, 2013. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister of Nepal is reported to have ordered the Attorney General's Office and Police Headquarters to stop the investigations into the case. In a public intervention the Prime Minister deplored the arrests and reasserted that conflict-related cases should be dealt with by transitional justice mechanisms. However, commitments to transitional justice mechanisms made at the time of the signature of the comprehensive peace agreements have never materialized, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly found that they would not supersede the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system.


Dekendra Raj Thapa was a journalist, associated with Radio Nepal and several civil society organizations such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross, Dailekh. According to the information we have received, one of his friends had come to his house on June 25, 2004 to hand him a letter requesting him to join a Maoist program to be held the next day in the district. Being forced to attend, he left his house in the early morning of June 26, without informing his wife of his destination, accompanied by his friend. It was only in the late evening, that one of their neighbors informed Dekendra's wife, Laxmi, that the Maoists had abducted her husband and his friend.

The following morning, Laxmi got in touch with local Maoist cadres who confirmed that her husband had been arrested and assured her that he would be released within a few days. In the following days, Laxmi reported her husband's arrest to the police and to human rights organizations but was unable to locate him. One week after his arrest, Kamal, the friend that had been arrested alongside with Dekendra was released and informed Laxmi that Dekendra would be released within a week. That was the last time that Laxmi was in touch with Kamal.

After 20 days of her husband's abduction, Laxmi received a letter sent by her husband stating that he was in good condition and was in need of some clothes. Three days later, she got another letter, which stated that he had received the clothes she had sent. It was the last time she was in contact with Dekendra. She later learnt that Dekendra had been forced to walk for a whole day and was kept in a school, where Maoist cadres under interrogation tortured him. Villagers nearby the place heard him pleading for his life. Due to the torture, he fell unconscious and was buried nearby the jungle while he was still breathing.

On August 16, 2004, Laxmi found a statement, signed by Ranjeet, district Secretary of the Maoist Party, stating that Dekendra had been 'wiped out' as he had been charged under ten accusations, including spying on the Maoists.

On June 26, 2008, Dekendra's body was exhumed with technical assistance provided by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nepalgunj. It was found interred in a ditch at Dwari VDC-1, Dailekh.

Laxmi filed a First Information Report on August 28, 2008, which listed eight Maoist cadres as perpetrators of her husband's abduction and murder. However, the police never took any steps to investigate the allegations, alternatively hiding behind the legally flawed pretext that the case would fall under the jurisdiction of the yet to be established transitional justice mechanisms or pretending that the suspects were absconding while they were seen walking freely in their villages.

On December 12, 2012, Laxmi filed a writ petition to the Appellate Court, Surkhet, asking the court to order the police to conduct an investigation into her husband's case. After the court issued a show cause notice to the District Police Office, Dailekh and the District Public Prosecutor's Office, Dailekh to carry out a prompt investigation, the police arrested Laxiram Gharti, one of the alleged perpetrators, and based on the information he provided, managed to arrest four other on January 5, 2012. Three perpetrators remain absconding. Mr Gharti provided his statement to the police and to the public prosecutor, and news agencies report that he admitted that Dekendra had been buried alive after being tortured, as instructed by the party.

In that context came the announcement on January 8, 2013, that the Prime Minister of Nepal had ordered the Attorney General office and the Police Headquarters to bring all investigations into the case to an end immediately. One of the police officers in charge of the case has even reportedly received threats on his life over the phone if he did not stop the investigation.

The AHRC is very concerned by reports of the Prime Minister's intervention in the due course of justice, in clear violation of domestic and international law and the fundamental democratic principles of the balance of power and the independence of the justice system. Since the end of the conflict, executive inference to shield government supporters from prosecutions has been routine and has considerably damaged the capacity of the criminal justice system to provide redress to victims of human rights violations and protect the citizens from further abuses.

Laxmi was originally told repeatedly by the police that her case could not be investigated as it would fall under the jurisdiction of the transitional justice mechanisms, an argument which has been repeatedly used by the Supreme Court of Nepal, which has ruled that commitments to the transitional justice system did not supersede the jurisdiction of the regular criminal justice system. That is an argument that the Prime Minister of Nepal, denouncing the arrest, made in a public intervention. As through most of 2012, political parties have been trying to ensure that the yet to adopted transitional justice mechanisms would be simply a way to further institutionalize impunity by being granted only the power to pardon and reconcile. Preventing the investigation of Dekendra's case under commitments to those mechanisms is intrinsically flawed. That Laxmi had to wait for eight years to see some of those alleged to have abducted, tortured and killed her husband arrested and interrogated by the police only to see the Prime Minister giving order to abandon the investigations is a slap in the face for the thousands of victims of the conflict who have kept faith in their democratic institutions to deliver justice.

January 18, 2013

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