Sunday, September 26, 2004

Duped whammy: Torture follows trickery

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, September 25:

A man, whose two sons are with an NGO, Mukti Nepal, was accused of being a Maoist and had to face mental and physical torture when he went to meet his kids.

In December, NGO Mukti Nepal took Pawan Karki (6) and Pravesh Karki (4), sons of a low-income labourer, Mitra Bahadur Thapa, a resident of Jorpati, assuring him that his kids would get free education up to Grade 10 and may get a chance to study aboard if he agreed to present the children as orphans. Since then Thapa was not allowed to see his sons, neither was he informed about their whereabouts.

However, on Wednesday, he decided to visit Mukti Nepal office at Balaju with three sympathisers from CWIN and other organisations. But he was not only denied to meet the children but was accused of being armed Maoist.

He was then handed over to Royal Nepalese Army, who blindfolded him for over 24 hours and grilled him to ascertain the NGO's claim. When nothing incriminating was found, the RNA released him and he was sent to Balaju Police Post. From there, the three who had accompanied him to Mukti Nepal office took him to Kathmandu Chief Administration Office.

He apprised the Chief District Officer of his ordeal and pleaded that he be united with his sons.

CDO Baman Prasad Upadhyaya coordinated with the police leading to the detention of Mukti Nepal activists, Goma Luitel and Dipa Sharma, last nigh. They were, however, later released on the condition that they would return the children to Thapa as soon as possible. Though the younger child is with the NGO, the elder boy has been sent to Spain.

Thapa, who hails from Sankhuwasabha district, told The Himalayan Times that when he went to Mukti Nepal office Goma Luitel called a man, who claimed to be a security personnel.

"He threatened us and sent others who were with me home. I was beaten up and handed over to army, who blindfolded me and took me to an undisclosed place," said Thapa.

In fact, it was Goma and Dipa who handed over Thapa to the army, claiming that four armed Maoists entered her office with threats. She told the RNA that while three escaped, Thapa was apprehended.