THRD Alliance believes in ending impunity and proper investigation of all kinds of killing and prosecution of those accountable for criminal activities. However, fair trial should be ensured where there are no political and ethnic biases in criminal investigation and prosecution process. Taking this principle as a core value of THRD Alliance, we would like to call on the government authorities, including Election Commission, to respect the mandate of the majority of people who voted Resham Chaudhary and follow due process to hand over the certificate of election victory. Since the court has not yet given verdict, we also call on the authorities for allowing him to observe the election victory, receive the certificate of the election victory and attend the oath of secrecy. Accused Chaudhary has absconded since the Tikapur incident took place in August 2015.
In the recent held parliamentary elections, Resham Chaudhary, the main accused in the Tikapur incident of August 2015, has won with a huge majority of 34,341 votes. Chaudhary from Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) had filed his candidacy for the elections in the country’s first parliamentary and provincial assembly elections after the 2015 constitution was promulgated. Although he won the elections, the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) refused to hand him over the certificate of election victory without any legal basis.
Before the promulgation of the constitution, Madhesi and Tharu communities had been protesting against some provisions of the constitution. On 24 August 2015, eight policemen and a two-year-old child were killed in clashes between mainly Tharu protestors and Nepal Police in Tikapur, Kailali District. Following the incident, THRD Alliance, based on its preliminary monitoring, had disseminated the situation update to the concerned authorities, calling on the government to carry out an independent investigation into the incident. There was continuing lack of clarity about how the two-year-old child was killed as well as the precise sequence of events that led to the deaths on August 24th. We had also received reliable reports, however, that non-Tharu groups set fire and destroyed 12 houses including Tharu shops; the Phoolbari FM radio station (as reported in the media); the home of CA member Janak Chaudhary; the home of Resham Chaudhari (Tikapur protest coordinator); Kamal Bakas industry (owned by Kamal Chaudhary); Niru Traders (owned by Niru Chaudhary); other business dwellings located along the route from the Tikapur Hospital to Manuwa Road.
Although a high-level commission conducted an investigation into the incident and submitted its report to the government earlier, the findings of the report have not yet been made public. However, Chaudhary, who was the protest coordinator is the main accused of the Tikapur incident, according to police. Since police launched a hunt for him, enlisting him under the “Most Wanted”, he had reportedly been hiding in India.
For the parliamentary elections held on 6 December 2017, Chaudhary’s representative registered his candidacy from RJPN to the Election Commission. Due to fear of getting arrested by police, he could not only appear in person while filing his candidacy to the Election Commission but he was also not able to conduct his election campaigns directly. He used social media to do that. To surprise, he won the elections with a huge majority, defeating his defeated his rival candidate of the left alliance.
Following Resham Chaudhary’s victory in elections, he nominated his wife to receive the certificate of the election victory. However, the local election authority denied her to receive the certificate of her husband. The election officers in the district told her that the certificate of election victory will be given to Chaudhary only. The decision of Election Commission can only decide whether he will attend the oath of secrecy. Election commission is not a authority to look into a criminal prosecution. It is just a body to look into election matter. Election Commission cannot decide to handover Resham Choudhary’s certificate to the Speaker of the house without quoting any law in an arbitrary way.
Meanwhile, Madhav Prasad Nepal, Additional Inspector General of Nepal Police, told the media that police are on standby to arrest Chaudhary whenever and wherever he appears. He claimed that he will be arrested even after he takes the oath of secrecy following the victory in the polls.
The court has not yet given its verdict in the case filed in the District Court, Kailali against Chaudhary among 58 charged for their alleged involvement in the Tikapur violent incident. Most of the accused were Tharu leaders and activists. Still, hundreds (difficult to determine the exact figure) of Tharu young men, including local leaders and activists and accused had fled their villages following the incident, have not returned yet because of the fear from false accusation, arbitrary arrest, and torture on charge of the Tikapur incident of August 2015.
On the top of that, there was no action or concern when his candidacy was registered to contest the elections. No one has filed any case against his nomination. This came as a surprise to many and draws the attention after he won the elections. Given the circumstance, we believe that the authorities should allow him to observe the election victory, receive the certificate of the election victory and attend the oath of secrecy accordingly. Simultaneously, the authorities can let the court hand down its verdict in the case of Chaudhary.
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