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Home Minister misled Parliament over extrajudicial killing of Kumar Paudel

With the Home Ministry’s directive to the Nepal Police to take action against those involved in the extrajudicial killing of Kumar Paudel, the Sarlahi district in-charge of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal, questions are now being raised about the numerous times Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has misled Parliament.While briefing lawmakers on July 9, amid demands from the opposition parties to form a parliamentary panel to probe Paudel’s killing, Thapa had said that the Chand party member died in a police encounter. He had claimed that Paudel was killed when police opened fire in retaliation. Paudel was killed on June 20 in Lalbandi, Sarlahi district.Based on Thapa’s statement, the government refused to form a probe committee as demanded by the Nepali Congress and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, which led to the two opposition parties obstructing House proceedings for more than a month.Thapa was adamant, citing an enquiry panel led by a ministry undersecretary that concluded that Paudel had first opened fire on police personnel.But a separate inquiry launched by the National Human Rights Commission showed that Paudel had been killed after he was taken into custody. During its investigation, which was initiated as per a complaint filed by Paudel’s family members, the national rights watchdog found that Inspector Krishnadev Prasad Sah and senior constables Binod Sah and Satya Narayan Mishra were directly involved in Paudel’s killing with the involvement of Inspector Kiran Neupane and Sub-Inspector Surya Kumar Karki. The rights body on October 21 asked the government to provide Rs 300,000 in compensation for the victim’s family and take necessary action against police personnel involved in the murder.The Home Ministry, however, did not comply with the National Human Rights Commission’s recommendations for three months. But on Sunday, the ministry finally wrote to the Nepal Police to take necessary action against officials involved in Paudel’s killing.“We have received instructions from the ministry,” Deputy Inspector General Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, spokesperson for the Nepal Police, confirmed to the Post. “We are preparing to take necessary action.”Durga Devi Paudel, Kumar Paudel’s mother, has also filed a First Information Report at the Sarlahi District Police Office against 10 people, accusing them of involvement in the killing of her son.“The human rights commission had recommended action against five people, but the family has filed another complaint charging an additional five people with the involvement in the killing,” Charan Prasai, a human rights activist, told the Post over the phone from Malangawa. The Home Ministry’s instruction to the Nepal Police to take action implies agreement with the National Human Rights Commission’s conclusions, which in turn means that Home Minister Thapa misled Parliament when he said that Paudel had been legally killed in a police encounter. This fits into a larger pattern of Thapa deliberately misleading Parliament, when the facts say otherwise.In July, Thapa had said that Saroj Narayan Yadav, who was killed when police opened fire at people protesting the death of a young boy who fell into a sandpit in Sarlahi, died after being hit by a bullet while standing on higher ground when police fired warning shots. Even at that time, lawmakers had refused to buy Thapa’s claims. “We don’t believe such baseless clarifications,” Bal Krishna Khand, chief whip of the Nepali Congress, had said.Similarly, briefing the House about the Chand party, Thapa, on May 27 last year, claimed that the party had formed four “companies of combatants”. This assertion has yet to be substantiated.In Westminster-style parliamentary democracies, knowingly lying or misleading Parliament is an actionable offence and can lead to the Member of Parliament’s resignation or removal. However, despite being a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, Nepal has no such provisions, say legal experts. As every member takes an oath to tell the truth before entering Parliament, it is expected that they will not lie before the House. “It is their moral responsibility to correct their mistakes,” Bipin Adhikari, former dean of the Kathmandu University School of Law, told the Post. Adhikari said that it is also the duty of the opposition to demand a clarification from the government if they are discovered making false claims in Parliament.More than legal censure, parliamentarians should take it upon themselves to adhere to a high moral standard, given that they are the people’s representatives, according to Som Bahadur Thapa, former parliamentary secretary.“If any member or minister lies, they need to apologise,” said Som Bahadur Thapa.

Read the full story on The Kathmandu Post


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