October 2, 2019 09:13 AM NPT
Rape accusation against House Speaker
The news of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s rape attempt on a woman employee working at the parliament secretariat has shocked and infuriated everyone. The public image of Mahara has gone downhill overnight and there are calls for fair investigation over the matter. Mahara has denied allegations of rape. In his resignation letter, Mahara has pleaded innocent and claimed that he is resigning to facilitate the investigation. What actually happened and to what extent Mahara is guilty (or innocent) will be known only after fair investigation on the matter but even then, he has not been able to refute the allegations of the victims with strong evidence. According to her, Mahara, whom she knew for a long time, used to come to her rented house regularly and try to make sexual advances. Sunday evening, Mahara reached her apartment, reportedly with a bottle of hard drink, and had her drink it. Then he tried to rape her. It was then that the victim resisted and reported to the police. Then he is said to have run away from the room. So when the police reached the venue, Mahara had already left. Police asked the victim woman to file complaint and returned, without capturing the evidence on the ground. This is the story so far and details will emerge in the course of investigation.
This is the first time in Nepal’s history whereby the person who is the leader of the House of Representatives has been accused of sexual violence. And the person to be accused also comes from the ruling party. Mahara has tendered his resignation to ‘pave the way for fair investigation.’ In this particular case, the government was also swift in action. Right after the news spread like wildfire in social media, the prime minister was seen to direct Mahara to quit both from the position of lawmaker as well as the speakership. And there have been growing calls from the public for fair investigation into the case and the justice for the victims. Mahara is not the leader of the cleanest image anyway—there were allegations including that of his involvement in soliciting for millions of rupees to topple down the government about a decade ago. But the issue today is, and should be, whether the allegations of rape are true.
Because the government failed to set the best track record of delivering justice on time in case of rape of Nirmala Panta, people have lost the trust that Mahara will face the trial even if he is guilty. One can read this on social media. Thus the government has to look into this case without bias and prejudice. Mahara may be right or the victim may be wrong or vice versa. We will get to know what it is only when the government facilitates the investigation in every possible way and the police dig the truth. At the moment, we call on the government to have this case investigated fairly, without bias, establish the truth and punish the guilty.