Kathmandu, January 22
Scores of human right activists and civil society members today staged a protest at Maitighar Mandala against the decision of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to field murder accused Agni Prasad Sapkota as a candidate for speaker of the House of Representatives.
The secretariat meeting of the ruling NCP, on January 19, had decided to propose Agni Sapkota, a Standing Committee member, for the post.
Rights activists and senior civil society leaders demanded during today’s protest that the decision to nominate Sapkota be taken back pronto as it was against the spirit of democracy and would promote impunity in the country.
Sapkota is currently facing a murder charge for killing Arjun Lama in Kavre in August 2005, during the 10-year-long conflict era. Lama was abducted in April 2005 from a parents-teacher meeting held at Shree Krishna Secondary School at Dapcha in Kavre.
Lama’s widow Purnimaya Lama had, a few years later, filed a first information report accusing Sapkota of murdering her husband, but police refused to file the case against him stating that there was no sufficient prima facie evidence supporting the charge.
The FIR had stated that Lama was asked to dig a grave and later buried alive in the same grave. The case was finally registered with police after the Supreme Court, on 5 March 2008, issued a mandamus order asking police to register the case and report the development in the case every 15 days.
During today’s protest, rights activists and civil society members chanted the slogan, ‘Don’t hurt and humiliate victims anymore’ and raised the issue of transitional justice.
The participants also said the decision to nominate Sapkota showed that the government was not willing to address the issues of transitional justice. Human rights activist Charan Prasai said, “This very act proves that the government does not really want to address the demands of the victims’ families, who have long awaited for justice.”
He further said that Parliament was the heart of democracy, and decision to nominate someone accused of murder to the post of speaker of the HoR was going against democratic norms and values.
Nirajan Thapaliya, head of Amnesty International Nepal Chapter said, “If Sapkota was not guilty, he should have supported police investigation into the case.”
The speaker post has been vacant since October following former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s arrest on the charge of attempt to rape.
A version of this article appears in print on January 23, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.