Human rights activists protesting the appointment of Agni Sapkota as speaker shout slogans after they were detained by police from outside the President’s Office on Monday morning.
KATHMANDU, Jan 28: Police on Monday morning arrested 12 human rights activists who had assembled outside the President’s Office to protest the appointment of Agni Sapkota, who is accused in an insurgency-era murder. They had assembled in front of the President’s Office where speaker-elect Sapkota had gone to take the oath of office and secrecy.
All those arrested were released in the evening.
Agni Sapkota was nominated by the NCP earlier this month as speaker of the lower house. Sapkota, a member of parliament and the party standing committee, is one of six persons under investigation by the Nepal police for their alleged involvement in the April 2005 abduction and killing of Arjun Lama, a resident of Kavrepalanchowk district. In March 2008, the Supreme Court had directed the police to register a case against Sapkota for abducting and killing Lama and to carry out a full investigation in accordance with the law.
Police had rounded up the peaceful protesters and detained them at the Maharajgunj police post. Among those arrested Monday was Arjun Lama’s widow, Purnimaya Tamang. The other arrested were Charan Prasai, Mahamuniswar Acharya, Janak Raut, Alina Gautam, Nirajaliya, Bipin Budhathoki, Shankar Budathoki, Balkrishna Ghimire, Jesselina Rana, Prasant Tripathi and Rajan Kuikel.
Human rights organizations have criticized the police action.
“Peaceful protest is not a crime. Instead of detaining our staffers and supporters, the authorities would do better to expend their energies investigating people accused of serious crimes and bringing them to justice through fair trials, ” said Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, Biraj Patnaik.