KATHMANDU, Dec 12: The government has decided to introduce an ordinance to pave the way for the release of the advisor to Nagarik Unmukti Party (NUP), Resham Chaudhary, who is serving a life sentence for the past five years for masterminding the 2015 Tikapur massacre in which nine people were killed.
The ruling alliance, which is struggling to secure a comfortable majority in parliament to form a new government, has decided to introduce the controversial ordinance in order to secure the support of the NUP, which has won three seats in the House of Representatives (HoR) under the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system.
A Cabinet meeting held on Sunday made a decision to include Sub-Clause 9 in the Clause 116 of the Civil Criminal Procedures Code 2074 BS in order to pave the way for releasing Chaudhary from jail. A Cabinet minister told Republica that the new provision is being included to allow the government to take decisions to withdraw cases of those involved in political movements.
Clause 116 of the Civil Criminal Procedures Code 2074 BS includes various conditions under which the government can recommend to the President to grant amnesty to people facing jail terms for various reasons. Sub-Clause 8 bars the government from taking a decision to release the person if his/her case is subjudice in the court.
Chaudhary was the mastermind of the Tikapur (Kailali) incident that erupted on August 17, 2015. The agitating Tharu activists had brutally killed eight people including Senior Superintendent of Police SSP Lakshman Neupane, who was the head of Seti zone at the time, five members of the Nepal Police, two members of the Armed Police Force and one infant in the ensuing clash with police.
Local Tharu people led by Chaudhary had launched a series of protests after the political parties in Kathmandu decided to put Kailali district in one province with other seven hill districts in the Sudur Pashchim Province. They had demanded all districts with Tharu population in a single province in order to increase their political participation.
In March, 2019, Kailali district court handed down a life sentence to 11 people including Chaudhary in connection with the incident. As the High Court also upheld the verdict, the case is currently subjudice at the Supreme Court.
The minister, who asked to be anonymous, told Republica that the amendment being brought through the ordinance does not make any direct reference to anyone, but seeks to pave the way to release Chaudhary from jail.
Chairperson of NUP, Ranjita Shrestha said her party has taken the government’s decision positively. She also indicated that her party would support the ruling alliance if the ordinance is brought to release Chaudhary, who is her husband. “Our demand is for his [Chaudhary’s] immediate release. The government has initiated a process to that end,” she said. “This is a positive development. We are positive about supporting the ruling alliance to form a new government.”
Sources said government officials and senior leaders of NUP had held rounds of negotiations before taking a decision through the Cabinet to introduce the controversial ordinance. The ruling alliance leaders had sought support of NUP to form a provincial government in Lumbini Province in addition to its support to form a new government in the center.
However, NUP had demanded the release of Chaudhary in return for the party’s support to the ruling alliance in the center and in Lumbini Province. “We had held discussions with the government before this decision. The decision to introduce the ordinance has come in line with our discussions earlier,” said Chairperson Shrestha.
The controversial decision of the government is also likely to benefit the Netra Bikram Chanda-led CPN (Maoist) and various Madhes-based parties. Earlier, the Madhes-based parties, which are now part of the ruling alliance, had demanded the government to release its leaders and cadres serving jail terms in connection with the incidents that occurred during the Madhesh movement in 2015.