Government official dies in Maoist captivity

Biratnagar, February 17:

The joint regional administrator of the eastern region, Prem Prasad Sapkota, whom the Maoists had abducted along with 14 other employees from the Regional Administration Office (RAO) following an attack in Dhankuta on February 7 and taken into custody in Rajarani, died this morning.

Stating that Sapkota died in Rajarani at 10 am today, Dinesh Sharma alias Sagar, the first division commander of the CPN (Maoist), in a press release, said Sapkota died of a heart attack and appealed to rights activists and media persons not to publicise the untimely demise of Sapkota in a wrong manner.

Sapkota had been suffering from asthma, blood pressure and diabetes for a long time.

Born in Baglung, 57-year-old Sapkota had worked as chief district officer in Ilam, Arghakhanchi and Pokhara and is survived by a wife, two sons and a daughter. Sapkota had come to Dhankuta eight months ago to work as the joint regional administrator, an official of the Dhankuta RAO, Fanindra Pokharel, whom the Maoists had released from captivity on February 11, said.

Sapkota was taken to an undisclosed destination three hours after abduction, Pokharel told this daily, adding: “We failed to receive information about him thereafter.”

The Itahari-based eastern divisional headquarters of the RNA said it had not been able to confirm the reports about the death of Sapkota. A team of rights activists had met Sapkota this evening, the headquarters said, adding Sapkota’s health was normal at the time.

A member of the publicity department of the CPN (Maoist), Pushkar, had informed the coordinator of the INSEC Biratnagar office, Som Raj Thapa, about the demise of Sapkota over phone at 4:00 pm today.

The Maoists have appealed to rights activists to collect the body of Sapkota, the INSEC regional office Biratnagar said.

The Maoists had released 12 other employees, who were abducted together with Sapkota, four days later from Rajarani in the presence of rights activists and media persons. The Maoists had assured the Biratnagar-based regional office of the National Human Rights Commission that Sapkota and police constables, Hari Narayan Dhakal, Upendra Lal and Bhoj Raj Danuwar will be released after necessary investigations. However, the whereabouts of the three abducted police constables is not known.

Dozens of organisations, including the National Human Rights Commission and INSEC, have condemned the ‘incident’.