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A ‘chance’ meeting in Delhi, may stall political settlement of Madhesi issue in Kathmandu

At the meeting, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was taken aback when Resham Chaduhary requested the withdrawal of cases including murder, pending against him for more than a year.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | New Delhi |
September 27, 2016 4:04:57 pm
Nepal, Kathmandu, beyond the news, Madhesi, madhesi leaders, political settlement, Pushpa kamal dahal, Resham Chaudhary, indian express Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, upon his return to Kathmandu, tried to downplay the meeting with a fugitive saying he only realized Resham Chaudhary’s identity after he introduced himself (Source: Reuters/File)

It was perhaps an innocuous meeting that took place on September 16 at the Hotel Taj Mahal in Delhi but its reverberations back home in Kathmandu may stall a ‘political settlement’ involving the state and some Madhesi leaders.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was taken aback when Resham Chaduhary requested the withdrawal of cases including murder, pending against him for more than a year. Chaudhary figures in the list of ‘most wanted criminals’ and police investigations have revealed that he was involved in the murder of nine policemen including a senior Superintendent of Police in western Nepal last year. The government of Nepal approached Interpol and got a red corner notice issued against him.

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In Nepal many people were surprised by his appearance at the hotel in New Delhi where entry and access to Dahal on his state visit, was tightly controlled and monitored by the host government agencies.

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Upon his return to Kathmandu, Dahal tried to downplay the meeting with a fugitive saying he only realized Chaudhary’s identity after he introduced himself and asked for the cases to be withdrawn. What has given the meeting a political twist and caused a furor was a statement by Dahal’s Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Home Ministry Bimalendra Nidhi that all cases related to the ‘Tikapur incident (the police murder case) would be withdrawn as part of the settlement of the Madhesi issue.

The police investigation report said that the murder of the policemen was part of larger design to instigate ‘communal disturbance and that those guilty must be awarded the most severe punishment under law’. Police Chief Upendra Kant Aryal is believed to have asked his line minister to think of the consequences of withdrawing the cases on the morale of the police and the family members of the policemen who lost their lives.

The withdrawal of cases ‘with political intent’ has been a regular practice in Nepal after 2006 when the Maoists joined the political mainstream and gave up arms. Although the Maoists in the coalition governments since then have recommended the withdrawal of cases against them, the Supreme Court has vetoed the move by declaring `there can be no amnesty on heinous crimes’. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is now investigating the conflict time cases on the principle that there can be no general amnesty.

The government is now considering a constitutional amendment to accommodate Madhesi demands but the withdrawal of murder cases by the state and the stiff resistance from the police may come in the way. Impunity in murder cases, after all may lend legitimacy to the politics of violence that Nepal has faced for a decade, and is still struggling to minimise.

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