Govt agrees to publicize Lal panel report

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Rastriya Janata Party Nepal lawmakers rise from their seats to obstruct the parliament meeting on Monday demanding that the government make public the Lal commission report. The party ended the obstruction after the govenrment agreed to make the report public soon. Photo: Dipesh Shrestha/Nagarik/Republica

KATHMANDU, March 19: Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) lifted its House obstruction on Monday after the government promised to make public a probe report prepared by former justice Girish Chandra Lal on the rights violations during the 2015-16 Madhes protests.

The party had obstructed the parliament meeting also on Sunday to press the demand.

The insistence of the RJPN to publicize the report has raised questions from various quarters. In fact, the government formed after the political change of 2006 has not made reports of any such commissions public.

The RJPN began piling pressure on the government to make the report public mainly after its lawmaker Resham Chaudhary, who was earlier this month convicted in the 2015 Tikapur massacre and is serving life term, was sworn in as a member of the House of Representatives in January.

Chaudhary was elected to the lower house from the same district while still on the run after the incident. His party has been demanding amnesty for him arguing that Tikapur incident was part of a ‘political movement’.

Seven security personnel including a Senior Superintendent of Police and a toddler were killed by local protestors in Tikapur of Kailali district in August 2015. Police have gathered evidence that Chaudhary had masterminded the incident.

When asked why do they want the report to be public, RJPN leaders said they want to know the truth. “We just want to know the truth behind the (Tikapur) incident as the authorities have been blaming Chaudhary for the incident,” said RJPN senior leader Laxman Lal Karna.

Sources close to the party, however, said the party is insisting on making the report public because the report has mentioned the Tikapur incident as a political issue and has not blamed Chaudhary for it.

“RJPN wants the report before the deadline for appealing the court verdict against Chaudhary expires. Since the report has ‘absolved’ Chaudhary from the blame, it could help him in the court,” said a confidante of RJPN top brass.

Chaudhary was convicted by the district court on March 6 and has less than a month to file an appeal at the high court.

“The government is reluctant to make the report public as it exposes the state’s suppression of Madhesi protesters during the Madhes movement,” said Mahindra Raya Yadav, senior leader of the party.

The government bowed to RJPN’s pressure because the government is currently under pressure to endorse investment related bills from the parliament before the investment summit next week and needs RJPN support. “We decided to lift House obstructions on Monday after the government agreed to make the report public in exchange for our support to pass the investment-related bills,” Karna told Republica.

Following pressure from Madhes-based parties, the then government had formed the high-level commission led by Lal in September 2016 to probe human rights violations committed in the course of the Madhes movement in the run up to the promulgation of the constitution. The commission submitted its report to the government in December 2017.

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