October 22, 2019 02:00 AM NPT
After the police arrested one after another high-profile leaders on various charges—from rape attempt to murder to murder attempt—beginning with the arrest of former Speaker of House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara early this month, people cheered the administration of KP Sharma Oli. It sent the message that the PM is not going to spare anybody—no matter whether they are affiliated to his own or other party, if they have committed crime or if the cases have been filed against them. Some sense of optimism is still in the air and people still hope that the concerned authorities will be allowed to impartially investigate these cases and provide justice to the victims. Mahara, accused of rape attempt, is still in custody. The Kathmandu District Court has remanded him to custody for five more days on Sunday. Another notorious crime accused, Mohammad Aftab Alam, has also been remanded to custody for five more days. These two leaders have been accused of grave crimes—Mahara of attempting the rape of his own staff and Alam of masterminding the murder of nearly two dozen people on the eve of Constituent Assembly elections of 2008 in Rautahat district. There is a growing public rage against these accused and they are demanding that they should not spared.
However, something fishy seems to be going on. In Mahara’s case, Roshani Shahi, the victim, has begun to say that she made the accusation out of influence of drugs and that police exerted pressure on her to file the case. Many people take this new development as the result of extreme pressure on Shahi from the party channels to withdraw the case to save Mahara from prosecution. On Mohammad Aftab Alam’s case, political class, the main opposition Nepali Congress in particular, has not been cooperative enough. The other day Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba vented ire against the government for arresting Alam, Congress lawmaker, for the crime allegation of 12 years back. ‘How can the person be arrested for the crime committed 12 years back? What was the government doing all this while?’ Deuba apparently argued. Alam himself has claimed that no bomb blast had occurred in 2008. Now a doubt has surfaced that the political class will influence justice delivery agencies to give clean chit to Alam. Or the victims and eyewitnesses might be threatened of life.
Kathmandu District Court released ruling party lawmaker Parbat Gurung, accused of an attempted murder, without bail, on Sunday. Gurung is accused of attempting the murder of Birdhawj Khadka of Dolakha after the 2017 local elections. Nepali political leaders over the years have earned the distinction for harboring criminals in the party and providing them protection. Rarely any high-profile leaders, even accused of heinous crimes, have been punished. People are closely watching how the authorities will deal with these high-profile cases. Neither ruling nor the opposition party should come in the way to obstruct the investigation process. Arrest of Mahara and Alam sent the message that the government is committed to upholding the rule of law. This momentum should be maintained. Nobody should attempt to influence the victims, police or justice mechanisms to give clean chit to the leaders simply because they belong to certain political parties.