Colonel Raju Basnet of the Nepal Army who has been accused of sexual abuse and the brutal murder of 49 suspected Maoists at the Bhairabnath Battalion was suddenly arrested on Tuesday. Basnet is accused of abducting 49 Maoists, killing and burying them in the Shivapuri jungles last year. An ad hoc board of inquiry under Brigadier Sharad Neupane of the Army Staff College had recommended his arrest and detention. Sources said Basnet was transferred from the Mid-western Division to Kathmandu for his prosecution for being involved in the actual slayings.
The colonel is said to have been seeking revenge after Maoists killed his brother Colonel Kiran Basnet at his home. The UN's Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights had issued a report on the Bhairabnath disappearances last week which increased pressure on the army to bring the guilty to book. Colonel Basnet is under \'line arrest' but no legal proceedings have been started. Also implicated in the disappearances of the 49 is the former commanding officer of the No. 10 Battalion, Toran JB Singh currently posted at the royal palace. Meanwhile, the US government has blacklisted members of the Bhairabnath Battalion from taking part in military training. Three members of the Battalion who were supposed to leave on training have had their visits cancelled and members of the battalion already in the US are expected to be recalled. Besides the immediate curbs on captains and majors from the battalion, the US decision is expected to have far-reaching impact on non-guilty officers as well. That is why there is now a backlash in the army not against the black-listing, but against colleagues who violated human rights and brought the US reaction. This has intensified calls for punishment of the guilty from within the ranks.