Army deserter turned Maoist rebel serving life term

Published On: December 13, 2018 05:00 AM NPT By: Prakash Timalsina  | @prakashujyalo

Implicated in surrendering army weapons to rebels

KATHMANDU, Dec 13: His wife is working abroad . She is also currently undergoing treatment there. The eldest of his two sons suffers from blood cancer. There is no money for his treatment. His elderly parents at home cannot make a living on their own. He is the only breadwinner in the family and is serving a life term at Bhimphedi prison.

This is the story of Jhul Kumar Bhagat, who was slapped a life term with attachment of all his property . A deserter from the Nepal Army, Bhagat was implicated by a military court for taking away weapons and surrendering these to the then rebel Maoists . He had then actively joined the Maoist movement.

Interestingly, the Maoist leader to whom Bhagat gave the weapons is Basudev Ghimire aka Powel, who is now serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Nepal Army following the integration of Maoist combatants .

Senior advocate and former lawmaker Ek Raj Bhandari said the weaponry Bhagat took away from the Nepal Army has already come back under the government as part of the army integration, following due verification by the United Nations . “The one who received the weapons is now a lieutenant colonel. And the one who took the weapons is now in jail . This is against the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Accord,” he said.

Advocate Bhandari said they are knocking at the door of the Supreme Court against the military court life sentence with attachment of property . A single bench of Justice Hari Krishna Karki has issued a show cause notice to Prime Minister KP Oli, Communist Party of Nepal Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and the Nepal Army. The government is expected to furnish clarifications within the next 15 days.

The offence that Bhagat has been charged with was effectively rendered void by Clause 5.1.7 of the Comprehensive Peace Accord, Bhandari said. The provision clearly states that an armed person from one side shall not be addressed as the enemy. The military court sentenced Bhagat on the ground that he was an accomplice of the enemy side.Bhagat is a resident of Morang district. Lawmaker Amanlal Modi, who represents Morang, said the army had done an injustice by arresting Bhagat against the spirit of the CPA. “Bhagat was arrested nearly 10 years after the formal end of the decade-long armed insurgency. I see this move affecting the peace process as a whole,” said Modi.

Legal experts have been maintaining that the regular laws cannot address issues related to the conflict period. In view of the gravity of the case, senor advocates Krishna Prasad Bhandari, Shambhu Thapa, Bal Krishna Neupane, Sher Bahadur KC and others have been pleading on behalf of Bhagat, according to Bhandari.

Bhagat had publicly handed over Galil and Insas rifles and cartridges to the Maoists at a function held at Ghoretar, Bhojpur on October 1, 2005 in the presence of Maoist army commander Dhan Bahadur Maski, lawmaker Sabitri Kumar Kafle and Lieutenant Colonel Ghimire. Bhagat, who later served as a bodyguard for different Maoist leaders, also worked with the Maoist Young Communist League.

A Summary General Military Court on May 26, 2017 slapped him with life imprisonment and property attached. He was arrested without an arrest warrant.

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