NHRC investigation challenges govt claim on Kumar Paudel ‘encounter’

Published On: August 3, 2019 06:57 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 3: Preliminary investigations by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into the killing of Kumar Paudel, the Sarlahi district in-charge of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), show a different picture from the government’s claim, said officials involved in the investigations. 

The constitutional human rights watchdog started its investigation into the killing on June 21, a day after Paudel was killed in an ‘encounter’ with the police in Sarlahi district. Although police and the government claim that Paudel was killed in an exchange of fire with the cops, questions have been raised from various quarters including the relatives of the deceased and locals over the police claim. They have claimed that he was killed in detention after torture. 

During the interrogation, most of the police personnel involved in the incident reiterated their claim that he was killed in a retaliatory action but their statements differ, said an official at the NHRC. The commission has concluded the interrogation of 11 police personnel linked with the incident by Friday while one remaining cop will be grilled on Sunday. Similarly the NHRC has also recorded the statements of the CPN cadres who managed to escape the “police encounter”. 

“Our investigation so far shows a different picture of the incident from the home ministry’s report and police claim. We can’t share much detail about the findings right now but it is likely that our report could expose different things than the government’s rhetoric,” said the official requesting not to be named. 

Secretary at the NHRC Bed Bhattarai said that the report of the commission will find out the truth about the incidents. “The report from the commission will be based on evidences and truth. It could be different from the rumors spreading around about the incident,” said Bhatttarai.  

A group of civil society members reached the NHRC office on Friday, accusing of foul play in the investigation to give a clean chit to the police. Asked about the issue, Bhattarai said that the commission’s report will be free of any influence and based on the truth. According to a commissioner at the NHRC, a bureaucrat-level investigation team had prepared a report but the commission sought additional investigation into the report, calling it incomplete. 

Opposition parties have been obstructing parliament demanding a parliamentary probe into the killing of Paudel. Earlier, the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of parliament also grilled Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa over the incident. Lawmakers questioned the government’s claim that Paudel was killed in an encounter, stating that the incident site and the dead body hinted at a different story.

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