KATMANDU, March 5: CPN (Maoist Center) leader and former home minister Janardan Sharma on Monday acknowledged that the killing of Yadu Gautam, a leader of the CPN-UML, was one of the blunders made by the ex-rebel party during the decade-long Maoist insurgency.
At a program organized to mark the 19th Yadu Memorial Day in Kathmandu, when the widow of late Yadu, Tirthaa, asked Maoist Center leader Sharma the reasons behind the killing of her husband, Sharma, who was a Maoist commander during the insurgency, said, it was a mistake made by his party.
"Comrade Yadu had saved so many Maoists. I myself hid many Maoist leaders in my house. But why did the same Maoists kill my husband?" asked Tirthaa, adding, "I am unaware so far."
Sharma and Gautam were local leaders of the Maoists and UML, respectively, in Rukum district. Before joining the UML, Yadu had also worked as a leader of the then Samyukta Janamorcha Nepal, which later transformed into the CPN (Maoist) before starting the armed struggle.
Disagreeing with the decision to launch the armed struggle, Yadu had joined the UML. Despite quitting the Maoist party, Yadu and his family had reportedly protected the Maoist rebels. Yadu, a lawyer by profession, had defended court cases filed against Sharma.
On March 5, 1999, Yadu Gautam, a UML candidate for parliamentary elections from constituency 2 of the district, was killed by the Maoists during an election campaign in the district.
The Maoists had claimed the responsibility of the killing. But they never spoke publicly about the killing nor did Tirthaa and Sharma share dais at public functions. But after 19 years, on Monday, Sharma attended a function organized to commemorate the late UML leader and offered vermillion powder in his respect. "That [Yadu's murder] should not have happened. It happened mistakenly," said Sharma.
Yadu Memorial Institute had organized separate programs in Kathmandu and Rukum in the memory of the late leader.
On the occasion, the organization honored journalist Narayan Shah with the Yadu Memorial Award-2018 for his contribution to peace and democracy.
CPN-UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam handed over a cash prize and a letter of appreciation to Shah.