KATHMANDU, MAY 31 – Two masked assailants on Thursday opened fire at Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam near Jwagal in Lalitpur at 11.30 in the morning. Bam, who took in four bullets, died undergoing treatment at Norvic Hospital, Thapathali, later at 1:30 pm.

The two men riding a red Pulsar motorcycle shot four bullets on Bam’s neck, chest, armpit and belly through the left window of Bam’s Ford Fiesta. Bam’s friend Ram Giri and Personal Security Officer (PSO) Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Mahesh Giri were also injured in the incident.

The driver, Asta Lama, who was unhurt, has been detained for interrogation, police said.

No individual or group has officially owned up the incident. However, pamphlets in the name of the previously unknown ‘Nepalbad Party,’ were found scattered on the site. Police are yet to make arrests in this connection.

A permanent resident of Kalanki, Bam was on his way to the Supreme Court in Ramshahpath after visiting the Patan-based Banglamukhi temple when the incident occured. According to family sources, Bam was a regular at the temple, where a special puja is performed every Thursday.

Bam was shot just as his car took a left turn towards Shankhamul town planning area near UN Park at Jwagal, a few metres away from the Shankhamul-Patan bridge.

According to witnesses, as the white car drove towards Jwagal, two persons in a motorcycle intercepted it.

“They got off the motorcycle and approached the car, pamphlets on their hands,” said Rajendra Tandukar, a witness. “The PSO, who was on the front seat came out to clear the way, but no sooner had he stepped out of the vehicle, one of the motorcyclists shot him on the neck. He was unable to react, and the two persons aimed their pistols at the car and started to shoot through the left window from point-blank range.”

According to Tandukar, as the shooters fired, the severely injured Bam opened the door and ran towards the opposite direction, crying for help. As the semi-conscious PSO, too, followed Bam, the assailants kept on firing at them. As Bam fell unconscious, Giri was reportedly asking the locals to save the justice first, said Tandukar, who helped the injured into a taxi.

Meanwhile, police said they have found a red motorcycle, abandoned at Subidhanagar near Baneshwor. “The motorcycle has a fake licence plate and we suspect that this was the very bike used by the assassins,” police said.

A high-level probe team under AIG Kuber Singh Rana, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has been formed. The team comprises DIG Upendra Kanta Aryal, SSP Devendra Subedi, SSP Subodh Ghimire and SSP Rajendra Man Shrestha.

“No arrests have been made so far,” said SSP Shrestha, adding that police were yet to find any leads. “We have viewed this as a criminal case, though the pamphlets we found have warnings against corrupt officials.”

Bam has been barred from hearing cases for the past one-and-a-half years, after he was indicted of misconduct while releasing three notorious criminals who were arrested under the Arms and Ammunitions Act.

A few months after their release, the same criminals abducted Dr Bhaktaman Shrestha of BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Chitwan. After being arrested on abduction charges, one of the criminals had admitted that they had paid a hefty amount to the judges, including Bam, for their release. An impeachment process had been initiated against Bam on December 4, 2009.

Born in 1951, Bam started his service in government in 1975. He was appointed zonal justice at Sagarmatha Zonal Court in 1990. From 1991 to 2002, he served as justice for appellate courts of Patan, Nepalgunj, Surkhet, Tulsipur and Butwal. In 2004, he was appointed member of the Special Court. He became the justice of the Supreme Court in 2009.

Probe panel formed

The Home Ministry has formed a probe panel headed by AIG Kumbar Singh Rana to look into the murder.

Source: Ekantipur.com (http://ekantipur.com/2012/05/31/top-story/sc-justice-bam-shot-dead-in-broad-daylight/354863.html) – 01/06/2012