Sunday, March 30, 2008

Legal remedy looks distant as poll violence goes on

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, March 29:

Though election-related criminal activities are taking place almost every day in different parts of the country, no legal solution has been sought to control them or bring the guilty to the book.

Five persons have been killed and dozens have been injured in the month of March alone; one among the dead being a candidate for the polls.

However, the government has not adopted the usual process of prosecution in any of the cases, says the Election Commission.

“The violence reported from many parts of the country cannot be taken simply as minor incidents of violation of election code. A crime is a crime, be it committed around the election time or at any other time. But we are yet to see any legal action taken against the guilty,” said Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti.

According to him, finalising a murder case in two weeks in our context may not be possible, but steps should be taken to maintain the rule of law and discourage repetition of similar incidents to ensure an environment for impartial polls.
On the EC’s part, Upreti said those involved in criminal activities would be barred from taking part in any election activities, including contesting, for at least six years. The EC can do it only when a person is proved guilty by a court.

Bishwakanta Mainali, the chairman of the Nepal Bar Association, said neither the parties nor the government have been committed to find legal solution to the violent incidents.

“The government can file cases against the accused, whether the case is an election-related violence or not,” he said.

The government is too timid to file cases against the accused, as it fears a negative impact of such a move on the polls. “But this will only encourage a culture of impunity,” he said.

March Details of violence

12: 12 UML cadres and candidate Dev Shakar Paudel beaten up in Ramechhap
13: Six hurt in NC-Tarun Dal clash in Itahari
16: Shooting at NC poll rally in Okhaldhunga
17: 11 NC, 3 UML cadres hurt in Chitwan
18: Police post attacked in Rasuwa
19: Maoist cadres Tek B Gharti and Bhakta Bahadur BK shot dead in Rolpa
- RJN candidate Kamal Adhikari was shot dead in Banke
20: 12 hurt in UML-YCL chash in Dhading
21: Janamorcha Nepal poll campaign disrupted in Khotang
22: Maoist cadre Shivapujan Kurmi shot dead in Kapilvastu -Maoist candidate Sushma Sharma Ghimire attacked in Dang
24: KP Sharma Oli attacked in Jhapa
-Election meeting of RPP-N disrupted in Pokhara
25: 25 hurt in clashes with police in Rupandehi
-UML candidate Rajendra Pande detained in Dhading
26: Maoist cadre Ganga Bhujel died in a clash in Solukhumbu; NC candidate Bal Bahadur KC and others injured
27: 15 NC cadres injured in Dhading
28: 18 injured in NC-UML clash in Dhangadhi

[KATHMANDU, MARCH 30, 2008, Chaitra 17, 2064]