Cops involved in killing CPN leader to face action

Police had fired nine shots to kill Kumar Poudel on the banks of the Lakhandehi River in Lalbandi, Sarlahi

Kathmandu, February 3

The Ministry of Home Affairs has directed Nepal Police to take action against police officers involved in the June 20 killing of Kumar Poudel, Sarlahi district in-charge of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal.

The ministry’s instruction is based on the National Human Rights Commission report submitted on October 22 which termed Poudel’s death “extra-judicial killing”.

A letter written by the ministry to Nepal Police on Friday states that perpetrators identified by the NHRC should face action on the basis of provisions in the prevailing laws.

The commission has welcomed the ministry’s decision with a caveat.

“I hope the letter sent by the ministry will not turn into one of hundreds of such letters written just to fulfil ritualistic procedure,” NHRC Commissioner Mohana Ansari told THT.

Police had fired nine shots to kill Poudel on the banks of the Lakhandehi River in Lalbandi, Sarlahi, after the government banned all kinds of political activities of the Chand-led CPN on March 12. At that time, police had said they opened fire in self-defence.

But an investigation conducted by the NHRC found that police had killed Poudel after taking him under control. Police also tried to mislead the agencies concerned by tampering with information collected from the incident site, according to the NHRC. Later, doctors also sided with the police and prepared an autopsy report without following standard norms, said the NHRC, which has demanded compensation of Rs 300,000 for Poudel’s family.

Wrapping up its investigation, the NHRC recommended that the government immediately suspend police officers directly involved in the incident, including Inspector Krishna Dev Prasad Shah and constables Binod Shah and Satya Narayan Mishra, and file a criminal case against them. The NHRC has also directed the government to take action against Inspector Kiran Prasad Neupane and Sub-inspector Surya Kumar Karki for erring while collecting information from the incident site and reprimand Dr Birendra Kumar Mandal of Sarlahi District Hospital for not following minimum standard while conducting autopsy.

The NHRC has recommended that the government take necessary action against the security agency concerned and the supervisor who gave permission to kill Poudel.

Inspector Shah, who led the team that killed Poudel, was sent to Sarlahi district as a member of the Anti-terrorism Special Bureau, which is headed by Inspector General of Police Sarbendra Khanal. Nepal Police Headquarters recalled Shah from Rukum Paschim district and made him join the bureau on 3 May 2019, a copy of a letter issued by Nepal Police obtained by THT shows.

Nepal Police, which was initially defending its action, has said it will follow the home ministry’s instruction. “But we cannot take action against our officers without conducting our own probe,” said Nepal Police Spokesperson Deputy Inspector General Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, adding, “We’ve asked Province 2 police to probe the case.”