Bhatta removed as TRC spokesperson

Kathmandu, February 18

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has relieved Madhabi Bhatta from her duties as the commission’s spokesperson and given the job to Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung.

Bhatta, a TRC member, was the spokesperson for the transitional justice mechanism since its formation in February 2015.

A TRC meeting held today also restricted other members of the commission from speaking to the media. If deemed necessary, members will be allowed to speak to the media with the consent of Chairman Gurung.

But, the minute issued following the TRC meeting gave no clear reason as to why Bhatta was removed from the job.

Talking to The Himalayan Times, Bhatta said she was relieved from her responsibility in connection with a news report published in this daily on Sunday.

The Himalayan Times on Sunday had carried a comprehensive report “Political affinity reflected on TRC members’ work” on its front page exposing TRC members’ views on their works.

The transitional justice mechanism comprises five members, who were picked on the basis of their links to major political parties.

The TRC members were divided over whether or not to visit Madi of Chitwan to collect views of the victims of Bandarmude incident, in which at least 38 people were killed and 75 injured when then Maoist rebels ambushed an over-crowed bus on June 6, 2005.

Following the publication of the exclusive news, most TRC members alleged Bhatta’s role in leaking such information to this daily, which she had vehemently denied.

This daily couldn’t immediately reach Chairman Gurung for comments.

However, Bhatta warned the transitional justice body which has been set up to resolve all outstanding human rights violations cases during the Maoist insurgency  that it can’t deliver justice to anyone if it takes action against its own members without any clear reason.

She further said that the procedure regarding her removal was also faulty as TRC Secretary Narendra Man Shrestha was kept in the dark.

“If TRC itself can’t be a transparent, how can we expect it to address conflict-era rights violation cases in a free and fair manner and deliver justice to the victims,” she questioned.