KATHMANDU, Oct 20: Faced with a barrage of criticism in social media over his remarks on the arrest of Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Mohammad Aftab Alam on Friday, the party's president Sher Bahadur Deuba has pledged NC's support to an "impartial and unbiased" investigation into the case.
Deuba's new remarks on the case which is also called the "Rautahat massacre" comes a day after he criticized the government for arresting Alam 12 years after the incident for his alleged involvement in 2008 bombing and the subsequent murder of as many as many as 22 of those injured in the explosion.
“Can anyone be arrested now for an incident that took place 12 years ago? Why did the government remain a mute spectator for so long then?” he had asked at a program organized by the NC's Policy and Training Academy in Bhaktapur on Friday. Deuba had alleged that the government was conspiring against NC leaders and cadres.
Soon after his remarks came to the mainstream media, Deuba faced a barrage of criticism for his attempt to protect the mastermind of one of the heinous crimes committed by any politician in recent past. This forced Deuba to issue the statement purportedly for "clearing all confusions".
“If there is a procedural dilly-dallying in any serious case, this certainly poses obstructions in the task of finding out the truth to prove any one innocent or guilty. This is what I indicated in the 12-year old case,” said Deuba in the statement.
Deuba clarified that NC, which believes in the rule of law, cannot stand against necessary investigation into any accused person. “Nepali Congress will support an investigation into the case of Mohammad Aftab Alam if the investigation is without any prejudice and pressure,” he further said in the statement.
Those criticizing Deuba for his remarks on Alam included not just those from the ruling parties but also from his own party. While criticizing Deuba for his remarks, they maintained that no victim should be denied justice even if it is after several years.
President Deuba's remarks on Alam's case on Friday were starkly different from the remarks of the party's spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma. As local NC leaders and cadres close to Alam in Rautahat took to the streets against the arrest on Monday, Sharma had urged them to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies.
“A legal process to determine guilty or innocent through investigation must be supported. This is true in case of the arrest of Aftab Alam. This central position of NC will be compulsorily embraced by Rautahat Congress from Tuesday,” Sharma tweeted on Monday. “Innocent persons should never be punished while the guilty should never enjoy impunity.”
Amid public criticism against the party and its leadership over Deuba's Friday's remarks, Spokesperson Sharma on Saturday tweeted again that NC remains committed to the rule of law. “It is our responsibility to fully extend support to the investigation. This institutional value right since our establishment will not change at any cost under any circumstances. This is our permanent value, permanent trust and permanent way forward,” he said.