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Justice delayed and denied

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

For Nanda Prasad and Gangamaya Adhikari, who were on a hunger strike outside Bir Hospital and Baluwatar asking for investigation into their son’s murder, 7 August brought devastating news. After their case was taken up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and presented to the government, Home Minister Madhav Ghimire told them flatly that his government couldn’t apprehend the guilty.

Dambar K Shrestha

Dambar K Shrestha

“There are legal difficulties to this case, which is why we can’t investigate,” Ghimire told the Adhikari couple, and the NHRC at Singha Darbar on Wednesday. Such a statement, from a minister whose job is to look after people’s security, is sure to be the end of the line for the Adhikaris. In June 2004, their son Krishna was dragged from his home in Phujel of Gorkha district, taken to Chitwan, and killed cruelly by the Maoists. Nanda Prasad and Ganga Maya spent the past few years going from one government office to another seeking justice. When they started a hunger strike outside Baluwatar when Baburam Bhattarai was prime minister, the police forcibly admitted them into a mental asylum.

In March, the NHRC had recommended that the government put the guilty on trial, give compensation to the couple and ensure they return home safely. But the Bhattarai ignored the directive, arguing that this was an insurgency-related case and swept it under the rug like many other wartime atrocities committed by both sides.

According to the complaint the Adhikaris filed at the District Police Headquarter in Chitwan, Januka Poudel and other Maoist cadre are involved in the murder. Poudel was Hisila Yami’s assistant when Bhattarai was Prime Minister. When the Adhikaris came to Kathmandu to seek justice, Bhattarai did everything in his government’s power to quash the investigation.
Right now, a Chief Justice leads the government, and the Adhikaris had hoped this meant the Regmi government would listen to their plight and deliver justice. After Ghimire’s statement, all their doors are shut, and there is no hope left.

Ghimire says his hands are tied by the government’s interpretation in 2006 of the Terrorist and Destructive Activity Punishment Act 2058. Although Ghimire says he will do all he can to compensate and rehabilitate the couple they haven’t asked for money, they just want justice.

Minister Ghimire’s answer sounds like an excuse not to address conflict-era crimes because of the personalities involved. But it ignores the Supreme Court’s decision which sets a precedent that nothing should stop investigation of crimes against humanity committed during the war. A SC bench, with Regmi on it, had pronounced a life sentence on Maoist Bal Krishna Dhungel for using war as an excuse to commit murder. But the Maoists pardoned him, and nominated him to the CA.

Now, the Adhikaris’ failed struggle for justice has put a moral question mark on a government headed by a Chief Justice.

Rameswor Bohara

Click here to read the original in Nepali.

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