KATHMANDU, Jan 16: Chairman of ruling Nepal Communist Party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who led the decade-long Maoist armed insurgency, said on Wednesday that as the leader of the rebel group he would take responsibility for the killings of 5,000 people during that conflict, but not 17,000.
Addressing a function organized at Tundikhel by the Tharu Community to mark the Maghi Festival, Chairman Dahal complained that people wrongly accuse him of coming to power by killing 17,000 people. “Many of my friends say this outside public forums. But I want to correct the statistics,” he said. “Let me tell you what the fact is. A total of 12,000 people were killed by the feudal lords of yesteryear.”
Dahal said he was ready to take responsibility for the killings of only 5,000 people in the course of the armed insurgency launched by the Maoists. “If you hold me responsible for the death of 5,000 people I am ready for that. But it would be an injustice to place the responsibility for 12,000 dead also on my head alone,” he further said.
Dahal also said that he has always stated in public that he would take moral responsibility for all the crimes that took place at the hands of the Maoists during the insurgency. “I have always been saying this. I take responsibility for both the good and the bad that took place. I am not shying away from that. But the blame should not be placed on me for the things that we did not do,” he added.
Dahal’s remarks come amid allegations by conflict victims that he was responsible for all the 17,000 people killed during the insurgency. They have also been exerting pressure to book the guilty through transitional justice mechanisms.
On the occasion, Dahal promised the early release of Tikapur massacre mastermind Resham Chaudhary. He was speaking in the presence of leaders of the Tharu community. Chaudhary is currently serving a jail term after being convicted by a court for his involvement in the massacre.
Recalling that in his capacity as then prime minister he had met Chaudhary in New Delhi when the latter was on the run and also at Dillibazar Prison, Dahal claimed that it was he who took the initiative to administer the oath of office and secrecy to Chaudhary as a member of the House of Representatives.
Dahal disclosed that discussions are currently underway within the government and the party to withdraw ‘fake’ cases arising from the Tikapur massacre. “Some of our friends have already been released. A few others including Resham Chaudhary are yet to be released. We will secure their release. You shall see. There will be results after some time,” he said.
Kailai District Court slapped life imprisonment on 11 individuals including Chaudhary for their involvement in killing seven security personnel on duty including Senior Superintendent of Police Laxman Neupane as well as a two-year-old, at Tikapur on August 24, 2015. A single bench of Judge Parshuram Bhattarai issued the verdict. Dahal also said at Tundikhel that all fake cases should be withdrawn.
“Hill Bramhins and Chhetris involved in the Maoist insurgency are also in jail. Those who chose to desert the national army and join the Maoists are also behind bars. I am continuing my struggle for the release of them all,” he further said.