Rashmila Prajapati refutes Sthapit's allegations, dares him to a public debate

KATHMANDU: Former two-time mayor and current minister in the Province 3 government Keshav Sthapit has been called out for sexual misconduct by two women, one of the allegations being fresh while the other issue has been repeatedly raised in the past few years.

Last Tuesday, on October 23, Sthapit had said that he would file a police report on Friday (October 26) against those accusing him of sexual harassment.

THT Online caught up with the former KTM Mayor to ascertain progress in this case. Sthapit informed that he would file a case only on conclusion of the festive season. "Why create a ruckus during the festive season? I will take some time to think before taking action," said Sthapit.

Sthapit further counter-alleged Rashmila Prajapati, one of the women who had accused Sthapit of misconduct multiple times, of throwing baseless accusations at him which according to him "Rashmila will have to pay for".

Rashmila Prajapati, a former employee at the Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office has repeatedly accused Sthapit of sexually harassing her during her tenure at KMC.

"You talk of women harassment -- isn't it harassment for my wife and female members of my family having to go through all this? What about their rights? Now whoever is causing this harassment will have to pay for it and I will make sure it is done," added an aggravated Sthapit.

Sthapit alleges Prajapati of being driven by revenge. "I have enough documents to prove that she, who was accused of misappropriation and misbehaviour during her employment at KMC, is driven by the sole motive of taking revenge."

"Things were fine before now as she had even campaigned for me during one of the elections for which I was a candidate from Sanghiya Samajwadi Party, of which she was also a member," said Sthapit. However, during an earlier conversation, Sthapit had said that he barely knew Prajapati since she was a temporary employee at KMC, and had not seen much of her after her termination except for once at a party meeting where they had not even interacted.

"I have the best team of experts from all sectors advising me including law professionals and politicians. I have been suggested to wait before taking a legal step," shared Sthapit.

Rashmila repudiates

THT Online talked to Rashmila Prajapati to catch her response. "If he has proof then let us settle that in public, with public's knowledge. What is stopping him from stopping this defamation as he calls it if he has the proof?" questions Rashmila.

Moreover, she suggests that Sthapit should not hesitate to take polygraph tests to prove himself right and these allegations false if such is the case. "I have time and again, through public forums, invited him to challenge these accusations with proof if he can. I am ready to face him," states Prajapati.

"This is not just about one Keshav Sthapit but about such men who have made many women's lives miserable. The culprit should be held accountable. Where is accountability? What has the party and the government he belongs to done in this case?" she asks.

"It took me a lot of courage to share my story knowing many would not believe me. I do not have any other motive but to make this a case in point that people in power who harass others cannot escape law and are brought to book."

She further shares that it would have been a lot easier if other women, who have suffered harassment at the hands of Sthapit, came forward and shared their stories. "I know it is not easy, but if possible, we must all share our respective stories of harassment to empower others facing the same issues."

Likewise, Ujjwala Maharjan, a former journalist and a slam poet has also accused Sthapit of harassing her, which also has been denied by him. He had gone on to claim that there was no such interview which was later revealed to be untrue.

KMC Press Release Row

The Kathmandu Metropolitan City on Monday released a statement defending former Mayor Keshav Sthapit against the allegations leveled at him, stating that Prajapati was removed from office following series of protests from employees' union, accusing her of misappropriation and misbehaviour.

The statement signed by Spokesperson of the Office, Gyanendra Karki condemns the 'untrue and fabricated' allegations involving the KMC office.

Meanwhile, Rashmila Prajapati took to Facebook late on Monday to clarify her stance and rejected these allegations. She further stated that Keshav Sthapit is cultivating lies and challenged him to a public debate through her post.