Nepal: Police resume crackdown on protests and conduct mass arrests in Nepal's Tarai

Asia Human Rights
June 19, 2017
Reproduced with Permission
Asian Human Rights Commission

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is alarmed by the Nepal police's unjustified use of force and arbitrary arrests of protesters in various Tarai districts. The AHRC also condemns the acts of surveillance by security personnel against the leaders and cadres of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) in various districts. The RJPN has been demanding for the amendment of the Constitution, and also to ensure the number of local units in Madhes is in proportion to the population of the region.

The AHRC has received information from the Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRDA) that four persons were seriously injured when the police fired bullets at protesters at Buddha Chowk in Nawalparasi's Parasi Bazaar. The injured persons include Narsingh Chaudhary, Suresh Gupta, Rameshor Kushwaha and Bhagwant Gupta. All of them were injured by rubber bullets above the waist. The shooting occurred on June 17, when RJPN leader Mahantha Thakur was addressing a public meet organized in protest of the second phase of local elections scheduled for June 28. It is reported that the police arrested four cadres of RJPN in Nawalparasi district.

Meanwhile, the police arrested 14 district leaders of RJPN in Biratnagar on June 16, while they were marching to padlock the election office of Morang district. On June 17, 13 RJPN leaders were arrested in Nepalgunj of Banke district. Leaders of RJPN claim that many of their leaders and cadres were under security force surveillance in Banke. Fourteen leaders of RJPN were reportedly arrested in Sunsari district too, and 16 leaders were arrested from Tribhuvan Chowk of Nepalgunj.

According to Superintendent of Police Tek Prasad Rai, the RJPN leaders were arrested to prevent them from creating obstructions during the filing of nomination papers by the candidates on June 18. Central Vice Chair of RJPN, Bijay Kumar Gupta however, said the police intervened in a peaceful party programme and arrested the party leaders.

As protesters were protesting peacefully against the second phase of local polls in Janakpurdham on June 18, the police conducted a baton charge against them. Forty protesters were arrested from the city, including those who were injured during the police use of force. Member of RJPN Presidium Dhanusha Parmeshwar Sah, Sanjay Kumar Singh, and central member of the party Punarmudrit Jha were injured during the scuffle. The police beat up RJPN central member Rita Jha, Bindu Thakur, Bibha Thakur, Sarita Sharma and Chanda Thakur and later arrested them. It is reported that the police misbehaved with women leaders and ill-treated other arrested protesters.

The AHRC has also learnt that the RJPN leaders and cadres have not been allowed to go out of their residence, and are seemingly under house arrest in many Tarai districts. It appears that the government of Nepal is trying to keep the Madhesi leaders and their cadres in custody as the second round of local level elections is coming up. This will no doubt incite more protests, resulting in targeted and unnecessary killings and further conflict.

The AHRC would like to urge the security forces to respect people's right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to ensure that arrested persons are not subjected to torture and ill treatment. The government must release the arrested leaders and cadres of RJPN and provide them medical facilities at the earliest. The security forces and the protesters must maintain maximum restraint and avoid violent confrontations. It is the responsibility of a democratic government to find amicable solutions to the agitating forces' political demands without resorting to repressive measures.