The Deuba-led government has doled out hefty sums of money to those accused in the Tikapur killings in the name of compensation. This is highly objectionable.
--BY SHANT SHARMA
Sher Bahadur Deuba has begun his fourth stint as the country's Prime Minister on a very controversial note. Especially, his government took two highly disputable decisions soon after being formed. One, his government decided to postpone the local level elections in Province 2 for September 18. Two, it provided a hefty compensation of Rs 17.4 million to Resham Chaudhari, the main accused of the Tikapur incident in which eight policemen including an SSP were lynched and burned alive in August 2015.
While the decision to postpone the polls in Province 2 was totally uncalled-for, to say the least, it could still be justified to some extent given Rastriya Janata Party Nepal's threat to disrupt the polls. However, the act to provide a huge compensation to Chaudhari is highly unjustifiable because it encourages the culture of impunity which is becoming rampant in Nepali society.
The decision to provide compensation to Chaudhari was taken by the erstwhile Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government on May 11, this year. On June 16, Dahal's successor Deuba implemented that decision. As per the government's decision, Chaudhari, who is the main accused of the Tikapur incident and has been at large since, has received Rs 17.4 million as compensation for property destroyed by an enraged mob the day after the Tikapur killings. Similarly, lawmaker Janak Chaudhari has been provided Rs 5.2 million as compensation.
"Even though a sum of Rs 1 million is generally provided as compensation in such cases of property loss, the Cabinet took a 'special decision' in this case and handed over the huge amounts," media reports quoted Govinda Adhikari, chief district officer of Kailali, as saying.
According to police officials, there is a standing arrest warrant against Resham Chaudhary who has gone into hiding in India after the incident. It is worth mentioning here that erstwhile Prime Minister Dahal had met Chaudari in New Delhi during his state visit to India. Dahal, it appears, either did not know about the active arrest warrant against Chaudhari or did not care (even if he knew) about his own police department’s tireless efforts to catch the wanted man sitting right in front of him.
Dahal had initially denied meeting Chaudhari. But after pictures of his meeting with Dahal were made public, he tried to dismiss the matter saying he did not remember who he met as he had met many people. According to media reports, Chaudhari had walked up to Dahal when he was at Hotel Taj to attend a seminar with Indian business leaders.
The meeting took place under the eyes of security officers present in the hall where Chaudhari apparently urged Dahal to get rid of the court case against him. Because the Kailali massacre was a political incident, the charge should be dropped so that he could return home, Chaudhari reportedly had requested Dahal.
At least eight persons, including Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Laxman Neupane, two inspectors of Nepal Police, and a two-year-old toddler were killed and 42 other policemen were injured in the attack by agitating Tharuhat activists in Shankarpur area of Tikapur Municipality on August 25, 2015.
Out of the 46 accused in the Tikapur killings, 24 are currently in detention while the remaining 22 including Resham Chaudhari are still at large. The day after the killings, agitators belonging to Undivided Far-west had randomly started fires targeting properties belonging to individuals considered complicit in the incident. Those suffering the property losses had then claimed compensation.
As Resham Chaudhari is still at large, his father Lalbir Chaudhari received the compensation check. Chaudhari's Fulbari FM radio station and his Fulbari Resort were vandalized by members of the public. A case has been filed in the district court against Resham Chuadhari for attempted murder in the death of the nine, including SSP Neupane.
Pradeep Chaudhari, whose hardware shop was vandalized, was likewise provided Rs 13.9 million. Another accused in the incident, Shiva Narayan Chaudhari, got Rs 15 million.
By providing cash to those accused of brutally murdering police officials and a two-year old toddler, the government has not made a mockery of the rule of law but also lowered the morale of the police force. At these challenging times, the morale of the security forces should be boosted up but the government has done just the opposite. Therefore, the government's act is highly deplorable.
The government has spent a total of Rs 110 million from the state coffers to pay compensation to those accused in the Tikapur killings. There are altogether 88 individuals who have received compensation from the state in this fashion. The timing of the decision to provide the compensation and the distribution of the compensation is also very interesting. The Dahal-led government had taken the decision to dole out the compensation just two days ahead of the first phase of local polls. Now the compensation has been paid just a day ahead of filing nomination for the second round of local polls. Thus the government has also breached the election code of conduct in a bid to influence the voters of Tikapur area. This is also very objectionable.