Nepal | September 22, 2019

Opposition stalls House demanding probe panel


Jagdishor Panday

Kathmandu, July 9

Opposition parties, including the main opposition Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, today obstructed proceedings in the House of Representatives demanding formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate the loss of two lives in police firing in separate incidents in Sarlahi in June.

Opposition lawmakers demanded that HoR Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara form the parliamentary investigation committee, stating that the answer furnished by the Minister of Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa on the incidents were not convincing enough.

Speaking in the HoR meeting earlier in the day, Thapa had furnished details of the incidents — police encounter of district in-charge Kumar Paudel of the Netra Bikram Chand led-Communist Party of Nepal on June 20; and death of Saroj Narayan Singh of Ishworpur Municipality during  police firing on a protest on the East-West Highway on June 30. The protest was triggered by the drowning of 11-year-old Amit Ray in a water-filled pit dug by illegally-run sand and pebble industries on June 29.

Thapa said Paudel died in an encounter with police, while Singh died after he was hit by a bullet when police fired in the air during a protest. “The bullet hit Singh because protesters were demonstrating at an elevated level, whereas police personnel were at a lower level,” he said.

Thapa said the government had used force to defend democracy. “These incidents happened as the police tried to maintain peace and security,” he said.

Thapa also said the Parliament could form an investigation committee to probe the incidents. “The Parliament has the authority to form the probe committee. The government is accountable to the House,” he said.

However, Thapa’s answers were far from convincing for opposition lawmakers as they termed Thapa’s clarification a ‘sham’.

NC Lawmaker Min Bahadur Bishwakarma said an independent investigation parliamentary committee was necessary because the government was involved in the killings.

Speaker Mahara tried to calm the opposition lawmakers, stating that the Parliament was ready to form the probe committee, but he needed to consult all the parties represented in the HoR before taking a decision.

Unconvinced, NC and RJP-N lawmakers picketed the Parliament’s well to obstruct proceedings. Although Mahara requested lawmakers to take their seats, they chanted slogans demanding that Mahara announce formation of the probe committee.

After a five-minute obstruction, Mahara postponed House proceedings for 15 minutes. The proceedings were eventually halted for the day after lawmakers representing Nepal Communist party (NCP) did not agree to formation of the probe committee in a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee led by Mahara.

In the meeting, ruling party lawmakers tried to convince opposition lawmakers that it was not good to form parliamentary probe committee every now and then, according to NCP lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, a member of the Business Advisory Committee.

“We requested other parties that the Parliament could direct the government to come up with facts and more information regarding the incidents,” Pokharel told THT.

Emerging from the HoR meeting, NC Whip Pushpa Bhusal and RJP-N lawmaker Raj Kishore Yadav told mediapersons that they would continue to obstruct the House until Mahara formed the parliamentary investigation committee.


A version of this article appears in print on July 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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