Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Promoting impunity

You were also arrested and kept in Bhairav Nath barrack, can you tell us what happened there?

I was arrested on 20 October, 2003 by Raju Basnet and taken to Bhairav Nath barrack. They had already arrested several of our friends including women comrades. All of them were blindfolded and handcuffed. At first they beat us to find out information. When we refused to give in, they started torturing us. Women were tortured and raped by senior officers. One woman was gang raped by 19 officers in front of my own eyes. Raju Basnet was one of them. She was in labour at that time and pleaded with them to let her give birth, but they did not spare her. Two hours later, she gave birth to a dead girl and later succumbed to her injuries.

What were you given to eat?
They gave us plain rice in a small tea cup every 18 hours, just enough to keep us alive for the next round of torture. Three of our friends starved to death. A 62-year-old man named Khadga Bahadur Buda was beaten to death because he asked for food. A husband and wife were stripped naked and asked to have sex in front of everybody. When they refused, the husband was severely tortured and the wife was raped.

You were thought to be dead, how did you survive?
On the night of 20 December, 2003 we were about to be taken to an undisclosed location in a truck. But they probably received orders from their commander, after which I and two other friends were sent back to detention. But rest of our friends were taken to Shivapuri, shot and buried in the jungle. A soldier who saw the whole incident told us later.

Why were you not killed?
They were probably planning to kill me and my friends later. The torture did not stop, but this incident raised a storm in the media, and human rights organisations and the court got involved. That is why they could not kill me.

How long were you kept there?
I was detained in the barrack for 27 months. After the Supreme Court ordered my release, they let me go, but I was immediately arrested on false charges and put in Nakhu jail. I was tortured there as well, but compared to the barrack, the jail was a heaven.

Krishna Jwala Devkota, Nayapatrika, 22 July

Two years ago, Madhav Nepal's government promoted Nepal Army's Toran Bahadur Singh who was accused of participating in the massacre at Bhairav Nath Battalion. This week Bhattarai's government is preparing to promote another accused soldier, Raju Basnet.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has named Lieutenant Colonel Raju Basnet as the prime culprit in the Bhairav Nath case where 49 people were murdered and buried in Shivapuri jungle.

The National Human Rights Commission has confirmed OHCHR's findings and recommended to put Basnet on trial and start proceedings to court martial him. But the state seems to have no problems promoting the guilty soldier to the post of a Brigadier General. This is especially surprising since the people who were killed in Bhairav Nath were Maoist cadres and the government promoting Basnet is also led by the Maoists.

Failure to act on the Bhairav Nath massacre case does not just raise legal and moral questions, it makes the state an implicit accomplice in crimes against humanity. If Basnet is allowed to walk free, then no criminal in this land deserves to be behind bars.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)