Five-day custody for Rabi Lamichhane, 2 others

Chitwan, August 16

Chitwan District Court remanded TV programme presenter Rabi Lamichhane and two others held from Kathmandu yesterday,  to five-day custody, to investigate the death of journalist Shalikram Pudasaini.

Police arrested Lamichhane yesterday, along with Yubraj Kandel and Asmita Karki, aka Ruku, from Kathmandu, and brought them here. Chitwan District Police Office produced them at the court today seeking their remand. According to SP Dan Bahadur Malla they have been remanded to five-day custody, with effect from yesterday.

“As they were arrested by handing a one-day detention chit. They had to be produced at the court to get more time for investigation,” said SP Malla. According to court registrar Rudramani Giri, a single bench of Judge Binod Kumar Gautam issued the order. While advocates Chudamani Sapkota, Sunil Kumar Pokharel and Tirth Poudel argued on behalf of the arrested persons, persecutor Yadunath Sharma argued on behalf of the government.

According to advocate Sapkota, the court issued order of five day’s custody despite prosecutor’s demand for 10 days. While Lamichhane and Kandel are TV journalists and run Sidha Kura Janatasanga, a popular show on News24 Television, Karki is a staff nurse. Upon being arrested, they were brought to Chitwan at about 1:00pm yesterday and kept in police custody following their health check-up at Bharatpur Hospital. Pudasaini was found hanging in Chitwan’s Narayangadh-based Kangaroo Hotel on August 5. In a video message said to be recorded by Pudasaini on his cell phone before killing himself, he had mentioned names of Lamichhane, Kandel and Karki saying that they had compelled him to commit suicide. According to Malla, the video was put to forensic lab test. “The test has confirmed that Pudasaini had recorded the video on his cell phone,” said Malla, adding that Lamichhane and other two were arrested on charge of abetting a person to commit suicide, on the basis of the test report of the video. Post-mortem report of the dead body, however, has yet to come.

Further, Malla added no FIR was filed by Pudasaini’s family. “Though they have filed an application seeking fair investigation into the incident and punishment against the guilty, no FIR has been lodged. It would be easy to initiate the case if the family filed an FIR,” he said.

Lamichhane’s fans and journalists had picketed the police office since last evening after the three were brought here. A large number of Lamichhane’s supporters demonstrated outside the court and police office throughout the day, demanding his unconditional release. People from as far as Pokhara and Butwal had come to participate in the demonstration.

In view of the thick presence of demonstrators, the police used back doors to take the arrested to the court and back, by avoiding journalists and demonstrators. Journalists were denied entry to the court while legal proceedings were on. Security forces at the main gate had detained protesters, citing security reasons. Seven police personnel got injured when Lamichhane’s fans hurled stones at police at the gate of the district police office this evening.

According to DPO Chitwan DSP Ek Narayan Koirala, police had to fire 10 rounds of tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.