Last week, Bijay Mahara from Rautahat and Rasikul Alam from Jhapa – died due to torture by Nepal Police and firing by Armed Police Force (APF) respectively. Below is the update from THRD Alliance on the issues.
Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRD Alliance) expresses its serious concern over the death of 19-year-old Bijay Mahara of Garuda Municipality-8, Rautahat district in police custody and shooting death of 38-year-old Rasikul Alam of Jhapa Rural Municipality, Jhapa district. Alam was shot dead by Armed Police Force.
THRDA urges the Nepal government and the concerned stakeholders to ensure independent investigation into these deaths, take legal action against the perpetrators and provide reparation and justice to the victims’ families.
- Bijay Mahara died due to torture by police: three police officers suspended; police refuses to register FIR against the perpetrators.
Bijay Mahara,19, a Dallit youth from Garuda Municipality-8, Rautahat district was arrested from his home on August 16 along with other 10 persons for their alleged involvement in the murder of Niranjan Ram, who also belonged to the same ward and was killed on August 15.
On August 19, police took Bijay to Anamika Hospital of Garuda for the treatment. According to Anamika Hospital’s doctor RB Prasad, his hospital referred Bijay to other hospitals as blood was seen in his stool and urine. Next day, police took him to National Medical College in Birgunj and admitted him in theICU ward.
According to Bijay’s father Panilal Mahara he received information that his son died at around 1 AM on August 27 at National Medical College.
Claims of torture
Before his death, Bijay claimed in a video message that he was tortured by the police in the police custody. Bijay’s father Panilal Mahara also claimed that Deputy Superintendent of Police Gyan Kumar Mahato, who was also the chief of Garuda police office, and other three police personnel tortured his son for three consecutive days. The perpetrators kicked and punched Bijay and also gave electric shocks to him. The perpetrators also beat him up with plastic pipes, boots and sticks on the victim’s legs, hip and other parts to force him to confess to the crime of murder. Panilal added that his son received serious injuries in kidney and head due to torture and as a result there was blood in his urine.
Contrary to the victim’s statement, DSP Gyan Kumar Mahato claimed that Bijay was a kidney patient and died due to kidney related complications. DSP Mahato also clarified that police did not inflict torture on him but Bijay’s family members said that Bijay was healthy. They informed that despite their repeated requests, police did not allow them to meet Bijay in the hospital.
On September 1, when family members went to District Police Office, Rautahat to lodge a First Information Report (FIR), the police office refused to accept the FIR. However, that day, the police office suspended Garuda’s Police Inspector Nabin Kumar Singh and two police constable Feroj Miya Dhuniya and Munna Singh and launched a probe into the incident.
After pressure from the Dallit Struggle Committee, human rights organizations and stakeholders, the dead body was sent to Kathmandu for the postmortem to be done by a forensic expert and the postmortem was conducted on August 28.
On August 29, DSP Gyan Kumar Mahato had been transferred to Provincial Police Office of Province-2.
A team of three-member probe committee led by an under-secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs is investigating the incident. A superintendent of police and district chief of the National Intelligence Department are also members of the probe team.
On August 30, Office of the Chief Attorney of Province-2 recommended for suspension of police officials involved in the incident and legal action if found guilty, while Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law of the Province-2 announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 500,000 for the victim’s family.
- Rasikul Alam was killed in a Firing by Armed Police Force: three members committee formed to probe the case.
On August 26, Rasikul Alam, 38, from Jhapa Rural Municipality ward no 3 was killed in a firing by Armed police force. Abdul Salam and Tajmul Haque were detained by Nepal Police on charges of slaughtering an Ox at Jhapa Rural Municipality-3. The accused were planned to be brought to the District Police Office, Chandragadhi for further investigation. However, irate locals blocked the police at nearby place called Kamatoli of the same Municipality from taking the accused to District Police Office, Jhapa.
When police team under the command of two inspectors of the district police (Nepal Police) and the Armed Police Force (APF) reached the spot, the crowd became agitated and pelted stones at them.
The APF reportedly fired 10 rounds to control the situation. Local resident Rasikul Alam, 38, who was in the crowd, was shot during the firing. Alam was rushed to B&B hospital at Birtamod where he succumbed to his injuries.
The situation became tense after the death of Rasikul and as a result the administration immediately released the two detainees in the presence of the local people’s representatives.
On August 27, a seven-point agreement was reached during the talks held at the District Administration Office between agitating locals and administration.
A three-member committee was formed under the leadership of Assistant Chief District Officer Umesh Pandey to probe the incident. The committee includes Rakesh Thapa, Deputy Superintendent of Police, District Police Office Jhapa and Sushant Baral, Chief of National Investigation Department. The Home Ministry instructed the committee to investigate the incident and submit the report within 15 days.
However, the First Information Report (FIR) has not been lodged yet.
Jhapa Rural Municipality provided an ex gratia payment of Rs 50,000 to the victim’s family.
Call to action
Since, the claims of family members of Bijay Mahara and police contradict in his death, THRD Alliance demands fair and impartial investigation into the incident. It also demand that the legal action should be taken against those found guilty. Victim family should also be provided with the adequate compensation. The state authority should also guarantee the rights of the detainees provided by the constitution. THRDA also urges province 2 government to take special effort for the protection of Dallit and other marginalized communities as killings and other forms of violence continue to increase in province 2.
THRD Alliance also demands that fair and impartial investigation should be done in the killing of Rasikul Alam by the security force. It also demands that the government provide adequate compensation to the victim’s family.
As the human rights monitoring shows rise in the cases of human rights violation during the COVID 19 and lockdown period, THRDA urges all the stakeholders to take proper measures to stop such incidents and ensure end of impunity.