Nepal in Transition: Public Trial For Past Crimes

If we want to solve the Terai issue, we must first try the criminals- from Nepalgunj, Rhitik Roshan kanda, Iraq kanda till now. This is the first step to say ‘we are sorry’. This is the first step to restore social harmony.

By Ram Bahadur Chhetri [This is not a real name]

1. Rhitik Roshan Kanda happened almost inscrutably and very swift. A few kids in Narayanghat started a rumor that the Bollywood heartthrob said something against Nepal, and the ‘offended’ people, like sheep falling from precipice, were hysteric. In Kathmandu, the worst element of society raised their head, and started to beat anyone who looked like a Madhesi. I was a regular surfer at Sajha.com at the time, and to my joy, almost all the visitors condemned those vandals who were attacking other unarmed, and weak people under the false pretext.

2. One impunity gives rise to another. Government failed to gauge the extent of how much deeply society has started to drift away from each other. The government didn’t act like a government, there was no guilty pursued, no punishment meted out, there was crime, but not punishment. What kind of civilization could that be? What could the logical next step be in the evolution of that society?

3. In the aftermath of Iraq massacre of 12 people, a logical next step was in front of us. Like a tiger that has tasted human flesh already, the mob that had tasted the perverse joy of beating fellow human started to beat the Muslims, free press, and other entrepreneurs. The government promised stern action, but there were none. The government exists in Nepal only to extract resources from outside and pour it in Kathmandu.

4. Like a sequence of numbers converging to a point, the next element in our social chaos came sooner than the first two. We had Nepalgunj mobbing. We all saw the mockery of state. We all saw the crime. This time the video shows that the state actively abetted crime.

Where does it take us? Where will we go from here? There will not be peace, no social harmony if we leave these criminals walk free and the innocent sufferers cringe forever. There should be trial(s), there should be judgment, there should be lessons and there shouldn’t be any forgiveness because forgiveness is not justice.

Last summer, as I returned from the Maoist affected area and was walking in Kathmandu, I had this eerie, ghoulish feeling; I couldn’t help thinking that the policemen who reportedly raped mother and daughter together in one of the western districts were still free, and they could be walking next to me. The Maoists who slit the throat of a young man in Myagdi were free, and they too could be walking next to me. In deed, our jails are either empty or broken or have innocent newborns along with their guilty parents, while the roads are full of criminals. And once you commit a crime, your inhibition lessens. You feel more comfortable committing other crimes: of more serious nature or of similar nature.

“The intellectuals in Kathmandu are incestuous bunch”, commented a friend of mine this summer, “They hang out with the ministers, or other government officials. The most they can ask is resignation of a minister. They will never ask for a minister to be sent to jail.” In deed, a rich man never goes to jail in Nepal as one report in Himal Magazine said.

If we want to solve the Terai issue, we must first try the criminals- from Nepalgunj, Rhitik Roshan kanda, Iraq kanda till now. This is the first step to say ‘we are sorry’. This is the first step to restore social harmony. I don’t believe the social harmony can be established by giving more seats in parliament alone or by some other cosmetic measures. Separate states bla bla are also mainly for powerful ones. Let’s also pursue the justice. Let us make our country strong by making everybody feel empowered. Let’s push the government for a big public trial-something like Nuremberg, something like Eichmann trials, let’s expose the racists in the government. During Eichmann trial, I remember reading somewhere else that the trial was long, even though Eichmann’s guilt was never in doubt, they called hundreds of witnesses. Because they wanted a full story to emerge, give the victims a moment of catharsis.

A public trial of such a big scale, possibly televised, will give a strong message to the racist officers, and victims: that there is a government, there is the law, and that there are a whole lot of countrymen who support such measure.

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13 thoughts on “Nepal in Transition: Public Trial For Past Crimes”

  1. No real name ram bahadur Chhetry,
    I no know politics but i like what you said about our nation not being able to maintain law and order…Leaders too busy banking money from Ghus….People following like a big herd of sheep on bogus rumours………..security forces too busy beating and raping women and girls…And Like you said the country won’t change just by changing constitution until mentality of the whole nation changed.

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  2. This whole idea of proceuting past ‘criminals’ is simply not feasible!
    Who are you going to procecute? You would need to start from SPA leaders (who authorized operation Kilo Seirra), Prachanda & Baburam, The King etc.

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  3. In an ideal world what the writer said makes sense. But, in Nepal, like someone commented – the system has been “Afai -tantra” and there is no simply record ever of vandals being prosecuted. The first thing mobs attack are the street railings, then the telephone exchange and then the list goes on… I wonder why the anger with anything public!

    I saw the whole Rhitik roshan kanda unfold from my own eyes. First of all, I read in the back pages of Kantipur about the actor making derogatory comments about Nepal and Nepalese. After few hours the students were on the streets protesting with banners (It was a peaceful protest though).. then suddenly it was mayham on the streets – firing of tear gas by police, stones being hurled at the policemen, and a sad death of a small girl looking out of a window by police bullet near my house. All over a rumour, and even if it were true – nothing worth more than a shake of head…

    Anyway, I still think it was irresponsible of Kantipur of publishing that story. Don’t know if they gave a formal apology.

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  4. OK…at this rate we cannot do anything about the past!…but from now on…all those who take law in thier own hands should be fuckin punished!…the government should make any more fuckin negotiations…but act!…its about time for the chickenshit government to get out of their comfort zone and deal with mob mentality shitheads

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  5. Dear All:

    Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate them.

    Bhudai said it is ‘infeasible’ to prosecute ‘past criminals’. I agree. It is also infeasible to catch all thief, but we keep a police force handy, don’t we? Amartya Sen somewhere once said something along the line that the obstructionists normally find one small problem in a big issue, and blow it out of proportion, and then infer that the whole issue is useless. I don’ t mean to call you obstructionist, but it is pretty irresponsible for you to say that we have to prosecute all past criminals if we want to prosecute the criminals of Nepalgunj.

    We must start somewhere. Let’s start from Nepalgunj. The evidences are there, in vide, among people. It is in national psyche now, as those videos are watched by a lot of Nepali, not to mention a lot of Madhesis who feel alienated. We must start the rule of law from somewhere, and may be after that we will reach somewhere.

    yyac said that there are no records left. Well, we will figure out once we start a tribunal to pursue these things. Rightnow, my worry is that while we saw no communal riot before Rhitik Roshna thingy, we are seeing it more and more frequently. Someone has to stop it. Someone has to tell Madhesis that the government is with them, the nation belongs to them also, and we are peaceloving nation where law reigns supreme. Yes, our leaders suck, our system suck, and that’s why we have to demand it now, we have to start the process to correct it for our collective good in future.

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  6. Yes to the author and not to forget the even more crucial trial (which the author aeems to have omitted or forgotten for god know’s what reasons) of Prachanda himself for if nothing else the murder of common citizens including babies in Magdi, Chitwan.

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  7. scoop:

    I neither forget not forgave the Madi sin.

    The key to provide justice is not to muddle one crime with a lot of other crime. Let’s first start with Nepalgunj. Once we have a precedence, we will have experience. We will be able to prosecute other crimes too.

    May be at the end of the day, we will pursue all the criminals. There are too many innocents crying, orphans waiting for the vestige of a state, and we will reach to all those as time goes, as our effort takes momentum. Once people rise, a lot of things are possible. But first we must start with something small. Let’s not complicate one task by saying, ‘what about others?’ It is easy to start from Nepalgunj precisely because it is the simplest ( only one death, video evidence abundant, relatively recent, even govt has evidence of loss as it collected the data to pay those who lost their property). We want to know what exactly happened there, where we made mistake, and after there, we can move to other more heinous crimes.

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  8. Mr. Chettri,

    I don’t see anything complicated about catching and trying the murderer of innocent babies? If you do and think you have the time to play the fiddle by dealing with other crimes first and moving sluggishly for the jugular, fine, but while you are running investigations, here is a crime where the main perpertrator has openly admitted his wrongdoing. So do we say Hurray, and let him free and maybe even award him with governmental positions? In the same line as any NA abusers will have to just say “Sorry” and he will be set free and given the battalion salute with full facilities? Or do we catch him for the crime we know he committed and admitted to? The real nasty part of this whole story is that Prachanda says sorry openly and takes the blame as if to mock the legal system and the victims and their families knowing full well that the system will not touch him. But I still say hat’s off to you for saying something, although it’s the easier route of trying and catching unknowns and losers,- the moment we have the gall to catch the powerful who apparently say they are working for the people, the faster democracy will set in, and many ills of the socierty will begin to dissappear. However, don’t have any doubt that this should be a one sided revenge seeking agenda where the power that is goes after the losers, this is a call to try atleast the greatest of sins and unlike you not the lesser evils and then working to the greater.

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  9. Hi Chettri,
    I am very impressed with what you have written but also agree with Budhai Pandit that its is not that feasible. Because still there are rich politicians and rich people who are defaulting loans and living freely, the biggest human right voilators are at the parliament now.

    The only step that can be taken from now is to establish a body that is independent judiaciary and is given the power to investigate on any personal (king, prime minister, minister or general people) and punish them if found guilty. FOr this to happen general people must demand with the government to establish such bodies and let the criminals not go free. If the government is not doing anything by themselves then we general people should force them to formulate rules and regulations that no one can pass through commiting crime.

    Instead of asking for seperate state or more seats in the parliament, people should raise voice for these fundamental rights that are pillars of development of society.

    To do this also all the Nepali poeple must be educated towards it. No body seems to care about these basic rights that are building blocks of society. No one is afraid to to anything, there is no rule or regulation, the situation is such that the whole country can be locked down by some rumour about Nepal Bandh. Anyone can do anything anytime.

    People are willing to hurl stone at kings car but nobody cares about demanding the government that why the kings atrocities are not put to trial and punished if found guilty?

    The problem is there from the root level which cannot just be solved easily.

    Finally the people who have committed the most criminal activities are either very rich or at the parliament sucking the country.

    The only way I see is general people being more knowledgable about those
    fundamental things rather then burning tiers and conducting Nepal bandh for no reason.

    Let Pashupati nath give Nepalese Bhedas some “SAD BUDDHI”.

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  10. Mr. Chettri,

    What I wrote was there is no record whatsoever of any vandals ever being prosecuted.

    But I do agree with your points that steps needs be taken such that noone can think that they can hide behind the masses, do as they please and can get scot-free.

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  11. Khulla Manch – A Confessional!

    Saddam Hussein was under the trial of killing of hundreds of people and finally he got a death sentence for his mistakes, although the process of his prosecution remains a large controversy and a huge section of today’s modern civilized societies has also condemned the death penalty. Nevertheless, everybody unanimously agrees for the trial of Saddam in which he was found a responsible person for the killing of many innocent people. Moreover, there are several such examples in many countries where the leaders have come under trials in the charge of carrying out different kind of genocides, knowingly or unknowingly, and finally got punishment.

    In Nepal, recently Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the chairperson of the Maoist Party, and many of it’s top leaders have publicly acknowledged the killing of hundreds of people (including notorious Tandi and recent Lahaan incidents) and the destroying of public and private properties as their mistakes. In the course of people’s war, thousands of innocent people died and the country lost the properties of billions of rupees. Their recent remarks on such incidents show they have openly taken the responsibility of those incidents. Now, these leaders want a public apology for carrying out such incidents as their mistakes. They describe such mistakes as “Unwanted sorrowful incidents during the process of empowerment to the people”. Like making confession in a church, they have found Khulla Manch as a confessional and the audience of a few thousands of their supporters as a father of the church. These leaders feel that self criticism, confession, and a few drops of crocodile tears would be enough to heel the pain of thousands of victims and sufferings of the whole nation from their “mistakes”. Without any hesitations, the Maoist leaders try to describe such incidents as their mistakes just to win the heart of those who were never directly victimized of the past conflicts. Many people who had not lost their dear ones or properties assume such an apology from the clever Maoist leaders is a greatness of them. Could anybody think from the perspective of those who are victimized from so called “mistakes of great Maoist leaders and the conflicts”? Today, not only the Maoists and their supporters but also the lawyers, many intellectuals, media persons, human right activists, and almost all democratic leaders do not want to raise the issue of prosecuting Maoist leaders for committing such mistakes which they have already acknowledged. If a country is governed by a rule of law, then one must be tried for any sort of mistakes whether it was carried out in search of a good or bad result. Moreover, the mistakes that Maoists carried out in Tandi and Lahaan or in many other places were committed for nothing good. If a mistake takes the life of tens of innocents and destroys the property of billions, how the responsible ones could be excused as for begging a mere apology in front of few thousands of people. If so, then we must understand how the New Nepal would look like in future. If this is the case, why not all the responsible people pointed out by Rayamajhi commission go to Khulla Manch and apologize for the killing of 24 people. We must forgive them if the nation closes eye in case of the atrocities of Maoist leaders. Not only the politicians but anybody else who had committed a crime could go to Khulla Manch like Maoist leaders did and confess there in front of public. He has right to beg pardon and must be excused for his misdeeds. Or if one is on the responsible post of the government, then he could go to the legislative house in Singhdurbar, like home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula did in case of the killings of 29 people in Madhesh Andolan, and apologize there for his mistakes. Nation would excuse and one can continue to enjoy the power and post as long as he wants. What a new judiciary system of New Nepal!

    Also, the past government of Nepal that included the leaders of all political parties, the dissolved parliament, the king, and many countries including India had declared the Maoist activities as terrorism and the leaders as terrorists. They used the security force to tackle the Maoist terrorism. If they legitimize the past activities of Maoists today, then why should all of them not take responsibility for the death of thousands of civilians and security forces due to the conflict between then security forces and the Maoists? Moreover, these people do not need to be worried to take such responsibility. If they take the responsibility of the killings of hundreds of security forces and thousands of civilians, they can also enjoy the new judiciary system of new Nepal and can go to Khulla Manch to confess their mistakes.

    Finally, Nepal is on the way to become federal state. Sadly, after restructuring of the state, Khulla Manch will belong to Newa state. Again, only the people of Kathmandu would have opportunity to enjoy such a liberal judiciary system. It would be again the people of Kathmandu who could be the most privileged ones

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  12. I can not but anything appreciate your article, i think this was one of the unbiased among few others i have come upon. The sence of helplessness and practicle problems of not being able to prosecute criminals can be true, but what i feel is you got to begin somewhere, blame game can be played to stop the process and also which crime / criminal should be brought to trail among many. But if the govt. choses anyone and give it a public hearing, however miniscule, sends the message to perpetrators as well as to public that, if u have commited crime u can not hide forever. This kind of message is not easily gullible to any strata of criminals. Even in one country all criminals are not brought to justice, so i agree this holds true in case NEPAL too. But this does not mean we just sigh and throw your arms in air.

    Being Madhesi living in Kathmandu during Hrithik Roshan kand, let me say it was not a pleasent moment. It just let me ask the question what the hell we are being punished for. And let me add that was the time there was no sense of belonging to this country. So why not begin from there? (and i do know there are many after that).

    There is stong pragmatism that the Madhesi are Indians and India wants to capture Nepal. If this fear is rooted deep down within the minds of people over here. THen its there prblem and they should deal with it, and not drag Madhesi issues in it. And let me add to that I am firm beliver that Madhes problem has to addressed from Nepal govt. and being seperate nation and part of India do not solve the problem , but rather creates a bigger one.

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