KATHMANDU, July 9: Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has said Vice Chancellor of Nepal Sanskrit University Prof Kul Prasad Koirala was barred from flying to Canada because he had not sought prior permission from the government for the visit.
Thapa said this while responding to a query raised by Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Badri Pandey at the National Assembly meeting on Sunday.
Prof Koirala was flying to Vancouver, Canada to participate in the 17th World Congress of Sanskrit Language. He led a seven-member delegation and was one of the speakers of the conference.
Minister Thapa said that the government had recently introduced a policy to curtail unnecessary foreign visits and made it mandatory for everyone holding public office to secure prior consent from the authorities concerned for such visits.
On his part, Prof Koirala said he had filed an application at the Ministry of Education to seek the consent for the visit from Prime Minister KP Oli, who is the chancellor of the university. But as the ministry sat on his application, Prof Koirala said they had decided to fly to Canada as per their original schedule.
Soon after Prof Dr Koirala completed his check-in process at the Tribhuvan International Airport, security personnel had taken him away from the airport, saying that Prime Minister Oli had invited him to Baluwatar. Although he was made to wait for over an hour, Prime Minister Oli did not turn up and he missed his flight, the prime minister’s advisers told him to return home.
Prof Dr Koirala criticized the government for treating him like a criminal even as he was going to participate in an academic conference. He also argued that the government’s kidnap style detention was illegal and the move was also an attempt to undermine the Sanskrit language.
Prof Dr Koirala, who was appointed to the post by the erstwhile NC-led government, had received permission from the former government to attend the conference. The then Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha had even given his nod to release Rs 3.5 million for the visit. Nepal is set to hold the 18th world conference on Sanskrit language in Nepal in 2024.
The Nepali Congress has taken strong exception to the government move to bar Prof Koirala from visiting Canada. Several NC leaders took to the social media to condemn the decision, terming it as “fascist terror” by the communist government.