IMPUNITY WATCH: Deaths during the CA election remain a mystery



Post Investigation Team



On the dead of the night of April 9, 2008 -- a day before the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections -- a bomb went off in a house at Farhadawa-4, Rautahat while some hired craftsmen were preparing ammunition, allegedly aimed at capturing polling booths the next day.


The story that was doing the rounds locally the next day went this way. At least three people -- Trilok Pratap Singh, 22; Basi Akthar Miya Kawadi, 23; and an unidentified Indian national -- had died while more than a dozen others had sustained serious injuries. Singh and Kawadi were locals from Rautahat district while the Indian national was reportedly hired to prepare low-intensity bombs, which proliferate the Tarai district during elections. 


The story behind the circumstances that led to the deaths were left pretty much unchallenged until some human rights workers decided to visit the village.


Twenty days after the incident, a group of national and international rights observers managed to get access to the incident site. According to eyewitness accounts, at least two of the three men said to have been killed in the incident were forcibly thrown into a nearby burning brick kiln.


“The two were locals from Rautahat who had seen the hired goons from India make bombs and they had to be exterminated,” says a human rights activist. “An eyewitness confirmed that the two were crying out for help while they were dragged to the brick kiln -- all in the presence of the police,” says Krishna Gautam, INSEC’s Central Regional Coordinator, a member in the study team.


The victims’ families, despite threats from the perpetrators, had registered an FIR at the Rauthat District Police Office on April 30, 2008 against four persons, including newly appointed Labour and Transport Minister Mohammad Aftab Alam, an elected Nepali Congress CA member from Rauthat-2. However, according to the Rautahat district police office, the case was dropped shortly after it was registered “due to lack of sufficient testimonials.”


Last year, human rights organizations, including National Human Rights Commission had recommended that the government probe into the case. NHRC Spokesman Gauri Pradhan told the Post that the government had not implemented NHRC’s recommendation to investigate the incident.


Very little progress has been made on the case, as with most other human rights violations.


“It seems that the leaders here are free to kill people. The man who burnt people alive has been made a minister. Now, who can go against him?” says Sri Narayan Singh, father of Trilok.


Minister Alam dismisses the charge labeled against him. “No such incident had occurred in the village and the blame [that I am involved] is baseless. The case has already been closed,” said Alam on Tuesday.


But the bereaved father claims that Alam had approached Singh on April 1, 2008, requesting him to allow his son Trilok to give him a helping hand in his election campaign. According to him, on April 2, 2008, Alam’s supporters took away Trilok despite the father’s refusal. That was the last he saw of his son. “Till date neither have I got my son’s corpse, nor the culprit has been punished,” says Singh.


Ruksana Khatun, mother of another casualty Basi Akhtar, said she “was now tired of running from pillar to post for justice. It’s painful, this bereavement. Who is there to feel our pain though?” said Khatun, her eyes wet. (The report was published originally in The Kathmandu Post.)

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