Crime & Justice

Nepal’s probe into mass killing confirms it as caste-based attack

Kathmandu, July 14 (efe-epa).- An investigation committee formed by the Nepalese parliament to probe the mob-lynching of six people in May on Tuesday confirmed the incident as a caste-based attack against Dalits – formerly known as untouchables – and recommended action against 35 people involved in the crime, including police officials.

On May 23, nearly 70 villagers in Rukum, some 280 kilometers west of capital Kathmandu, had chased away Navaraj BK and 17 of his friends after his failed attempt to elope with 17-year-old local girl Sushma Malla, who belongs to a “higher” caste.

Navaraj and five of his friends – Ganesh Budha, Sandip BK, Lokendra Sunar, Tikaram Nepali and Govinda Shahi – were beaten to death by the enraged mob and their bodies were later recovered from the Bheri river, which marks the boundary between Rukum and Jajarkot, the district where the suitor lived.

The 47-page report submitted on Tuesday by the committee to Agni Prasad Sapkota – the speaker of the House of Representatives (the lower house) – includes disturbing photos of the victims’ bodies.

The document said that the attack was a pre-planned conspiracy by Malla’s family, which was not happy with their daughter’s love affair with 21-year-old Navaraj – a resident of the Bheri municipality in Jajarkot district – because he belonged to a so-called lower caste.

As per the probe, the police did not take the incident seriously even after the young men were reported missing and failed to act in time.

“Had the police acted promptly, their lives could have been saved,” lawmaker Bimala BK, part of the nine-member investigation committee, told EFE.

“The police did not pursue their duty properly and that resulted in a heinous mass killing,” she insisted.

The report alleged that police sub-inspector Santosh Lamichhane and senior constable Ramesh Basnet from the local police post in Chaurajahari, Rukum, “did not try their best” to avert the situation.

On May 23, Navraj and his friends had reached Malla’s house at 5 pm to try and take her away.

However, the girl’s mother had got to know of the plan and gathered villagers, including local politician Dambar Bahadur Malla, and the crowd attacked the young men with weapons like sickles and axes as well as beating them with wooden sticks and stones.

Apart from the six deceased, the other 12 people of the group also sustained serious injuries.

The incident sparked widespread outrage within and outside Nepal and the murder-accused were arrested on the next day under public pressure.

Bimala BK told EFE that three separate cases have been filed against 34 people for their involvement in the crime against the Dalit community, which continues to face discrimination despite laws to prevent it.

“We have also recommended that the government provide compensation to the families of the victim and implement the law against caste-based discrimination more strictly,” the lawmaker said. EFE-EPA

sp/ia

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