Speaker offers probe into Sarlahi killings through SAC
August 1, 2019 05:00 AM NPT
Photo by: Dipesh Shrestha
NC adamant on separate panel
KATHMANDU, Aug1: With stalemate between the ruling and opposition parties prolonging obstruction of the House of Representatives, Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara has floated a proposal to probe the police killings in Sarlahi through parliament's own State Affairs Committee (SAC).
But the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has turned down the offer and said a separate panel should be formed to investigate the killing of two individuals in separate incidents of police gunfire in Sarlahi district last month.
Sarlahi in-charge of outlawed Communist Party Nepal Kumar Paudel was reportedly killed in a police encounter on June 20, and Saroj Narayan Singh was killed when police opened fire to contain a street demonstration over the drowning of a minor in a riverside ditch dug up by sand excavators.
NC and another opposition party, Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), have been obstructing parliament to pressure the government over the two incidents. They accuse police of extra-judicial killings .
Although Speaker Mahara claimed that the existing parliamentary committee comprising members from all political parties represented in the House could very well investigate the Sarlahi incidents, the main opposition party said they will not settle for anything less than a special parliamentary panel.
“I wonder why the ruling party should have a problem with investigating the incidents through a special parliamentary panel when the home minister and the speaker himself have already said they had no objections,” said NC Chief Whip Balkrishna Khand.
Speaker Mahara has also said that he has no problem if all the political parties agree on the probe committee. He has convened an all-party meeting for Thursday in a last-ditch bid to end the House stalemate before Prime Minister KP Oli's week-long visit to Singapore.
With the house obstruction dragging on, the opposition parties have questioned the neutrality of the speaker. Mahara had left the opposition lawmakers standing for nearly an hour in the speaker's well in parliament Wednesday and for 40 minutes on Tuesday. On both occasions they had trooped into the well to obstruct the House proceedings.
Meanwhile, in addition to their previous demands, the NC has also brought up again the constitutional provision that bars the election of both the speaker and the deputy speaker from the same political party. With the unification of the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) both speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives have ended up belonging to the Nepal Communist Party.
Similarly, the RJPN has demanded that the Girish Chandra Lal-led commission report on the Tikapur lynchings be made pubic . The government has been dilly-dallying on making the report public, in disregard of a House ruling on the matter and pressure from the RJPN.