South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Four years after the end of the conflict, there now appears to be a familiar pattern in the way in which the Maoists handles incidents where a member of party is charged with crime. This has most recently been revealed in the case of Kali Bahadur Kham ‘Bibidh’, who has been charged with robbery and running an illegal trade in the Himalayan herb Yarchagumba. First, a number of key party leaders state in public that the accused has no relation with the party at all, that none of the party leaders are aware of his whereabouts. Then, as the police begins its investigations, the party leadership states that it is willing to cooperate with any criminal investigations. As the process continues, however, and it becomes evident that the accused is in fact in contact with Maoist leaders, party leaders state that the accused is innocent of the crime he has been charged with and that the party has begun an internal investigation. The investigation then “confirms” the innocence of the accused and he continues to remain out of the arms of the law, under the protection of the Maoist party.

This was exactly the sequence of events that occurred when Kham was accused of the murder of Ram Hari Shrestha almost two years ago. And it now appears, that the exact same sequence is currently being repeated. PLA commander Nanda Kishore Pun recently made a statement saying that Kham is innocent and that the party will investigate the matter. Maoist leaders also strongly criticised the home minister for raiding houses of Maoist parliamentarians where it was believed Kham was hiding.
Granted, during the years of the conflict, it was important for the Maoists to ensure that party members were extremely loyal to each other on a personal basis. This trait was necessary at a time when they were engaged in a struggle against the state. Now that the Maoists have entered the political mainstream, however, and accepted democratic values and the rule of law, they can no longer be allowed to shield those close to them of crimes. Such actions on the part of the largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA) can only have an extremely pernicious effect on the rest of society.
Nobody believes in the credibility of an investigation regarding the alleged crimes of a member of the Maoist party held by the party itself. The accused is given a clean chit even as the details of the investigation are never even revealed to the public. Such actions are severely detrimental to public perception of the Maoists. They arouse anger towards the party and lead to an erosion in its popular credibility. If the Maoists want to gain the status of a political force that is genuinely working towards progressive change, it will have to change its habits. As a start it should cooperate with the police and hand over Kham to the lawful authorities for trial.
Source: The Kathmandu Post – 20.07.2010