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Demands for fresh probe into Nepal murder case
Kathmandu | May 07, 2006 2:15:06 PM IST
 
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With King Gyanendra's absolute rule having ended in Nepal, demands are being made for a fresh probe into a 25-year-old triple rape and murder case in which influential royal relatives came under suspicion.

Nepal had been shaken by the brutal rape and murder of three students whose killers were never brought to justice.

Known as the infamous "Namita-Sunita hatyakando (Murder of Namita and Sunita)", the incident also included two more killings, says Nepali editor Kishor Shrestha, who as a cub journalist in 1991 began investigating the murders and this month published a book on his findings.

Released on May 1, the book, "Darbarkando Pachhi Dabayeko Arko Hatyakando" (Another Murder Case Suppressed After the Royal Palace Massacre), is packed with police documents, interviews with some of the people linked to the case, and excerpts from the diary of one of the victims.

Namita and Sunita Bhandari were two sisters who came from a well-connected family in Kathmandu.

In the 1980s, when a series of protests against the panchayat system of government shut down schools and colleges for several months, the two sisters went for a holiday to Pokhara, a popular tourist destination.

A friend, Neera Parajuli, joined them. The bodies of all three girls were found in the Gandaki river in Pokhara.

"An employee of the forest department, Churamani Adhikari, was n witness," says Shrestha. "He was taken to the police station for questioning. The next day, he too was dead."

Four influential people came under suspicion: prince Dhirendra, younger brother of former king Birendra and King Gyanendra; Uday Shumsher, brother of Komal, Gyanendra's wife and the present queen; Neer Shah, a well known film director and actor related to the royal family by marriage, and Binod Shankar Shrestha, owner of an upmarket hotel in Kathmandu.

"In June 2001, King Birendra and his family were massacred in the palace and Gyanendra was sworn in as the new king," says Shrestha. "Just 10 days after his ascension, police authorities were asked to close the case and began dragging their feet on the investigation. The case was closed inconclusively in 2003."

About two months ago, Shrestha, who edits the popular Jana Aastha weekly, came across police documents and the diary of one of the sisters and decided to write a book.

"In 1990, after a mass uprising clipped the king's absolute power and a democratic government came to power, it formed a commission to punish the royalist aides responsible for committing atrocities," he says.

"The Mallik Commission recommended action against several ministers and officials but nothing was done. Then when King Gyanendra seized absolute power again last year, some of the same people were appointed ministers and top officials and continued their atrocities.

"We want an end to that. Nepal has suffered at the hands of people who misused their position and put themselves above law. Impunity made their morale high. Such people have to be brought to justice."

Shrestha's views are echoed by Narayan Dhakal, editor of Drishti magazine which in 1991 carried a report on the murders.

"I used to receive death threats over phone," Dhakal says. "But I did not give in because there was a democratic government. Now that there is a people's government once more, it has to initiate changes and raise these issues.

"During the panchayat regime, there have been political and social murders. There have been disappearances from families too poor to seek justice. The new government should investigate all these deaths and bring the guilty to justice."

(IANS)

 

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