Published On: March 7, 2019 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica | @RepublicaNepal
Tharu political leaders across spectrum decry verdict
KATHMANDU, March 7: Member of Parliament Resham Lal Chaudhary and 10 others were sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday, in connection with the 2015 Tikapur incident in which seven policemen including SSP Laxman Neupane and a toddler were lynched.
Kailali District Court found the 11 guilty of instigating a mob and launching premeditated attacks on police during anti-constitution protests in Tikapur on August 24, 2015, just weeks ahead of the promulgation of the new constitution .
Chaudhary, who was subsequently elected to parliament from Kailali-1 while still on the lam, was taken into custody after he surrendered. He is currently in Dilibazar Prison. He was, however, allowed to take the oath of office and secrecy earlier this year even as his case in court continued.
A single bench of Judge Parshuram Bhattarai also found 12 others, including Laxman Tharu and Lahuram Chaudhary, complicit in the crimes and slapped each with three years in jail . Tharu and Lahuram Chauhary were the faces of the Tharu agitations after the first Madhes movement of 2009.
The verdict means the two, like many other Tharu leaders who were taken into custody days after the Tikapur incident, won't have to remain in jail any longer as they have already spent three years under custody.
The case against them was lodged just weeks after the incident but it kept dragging on until Chaudhary surrendered himself .
Wednesday's verdict was not unexpected. Police, citing several pieces of evidence, had accused Resham Chaudhary of masterminding one of the most brutal attacks on police since the end of the Maoist armed insurgency.
On the fateful morning of August 24, 2015, Neupane and his men came under attack when they had gone to meet Tharu leaders to discuss ways to defuse ethnic tensions over the new constitution. Eyewitnesses say the police were surrounded by a mob before being butchered with crude weapons.
Hours after the incident, police arrested 26 people including two minors.
Wednesday's court verdict has had a mixed reaction. The families of the lynching victims cautiously welcomed the verdict, saying they had feared there would be a blanket amnesty for the perpetrators.
But Tharu leaders from across the political spectrum have decried the verdict. In a statement, the Tharuwan-Tharuhat United Committee has urged the government to immediately release those held in prison.
The RJPN has also urged the government to free Chaudhary and others behind bars. RJPN chairman and presidium member Rajendra Mahato said the party would start a road struggle against the court verdict.
“All of them should be released without any conditions,” Mahato said.
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