The Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee of Nepal’s Federal Parliament has declared the Rukum Paschim killings to be a crime against humanity. The committee has also directed the government to immediately bring all culprits to book and instructed the Ministry of Home Affairs to form a Dalit cell in District Police Office of Rukum Paschim to deal with cases related to violence and discrimination against the community.
The committee had summoned Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and Attorney General Agni Kharel to inquire about government action on the killing of six Dalit youths in Chaur Jahari of Rukum Paschim in western Nepal.
On May 23, locals from Chaur Jahari Municipality in Rukum Paschim had set upon a group of 19 youths, mostly teens, coming from neighboring Jajarkot district. Six youths were killed, and one is still missing. Others ran away to save themselves when the mob tried to lynch them to death. Reportedly, the locals were angry upon knowing that Nawaraj BK, a Dalit, had come along with his friends to marry a girl from their village.
Stating that the incident was a case of caste-based discrimination, Kharel expressed his commitment to not let the investigations go awry. “We make laws and policies. That’s fine. But whether we implement them is the major question,” he said at the meeting. “In this case, we will ensure that the investigations will be fair. We won’t come under anyone’s influence.”
Subhas Nembang, deputy parliamentary leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, said the culprits will be brought to book no matter how influential or powerful they might be. “This is not only against the Dalit community. This is a crime against humanity.”
Chief whip of main opposition party Nepali Congress, Bal Krishna Khand, condemned the state failure in stopping crowds from coming out of their houses and carrying out the killings in the middle of coronavirus lockdown.
Members of parliament Min Bishwakarma, Dibyamani Rajbhandari, Bimala BK, Ram Kumari Chaudhari, Sher Bahadur Tamang, Parwati Bishankhe, Laxmi Pariyar, and Matrika Yadav also unanimously condemned the incident and demanded immediate action from the government.
‘Police no silent watchers’
Speaking before the committee, Home Minister Thapa said the police were not silent spectators to the incident, unlike what was being reported. He claimed the police did their best to save Nawaraj and his friends.
“We are investigating if there was some lapse on the part of the police. If some police personnel made a mistake, we will take departmental action against them,” he claimed.
There were about 50-60 locals who had surrounded the youths before attacking them. Thapa said the local police did not notice them earlier as they possibly came into the village on the sly.
The kin of the dead have lodged complaints against 20 persons in the village for the killings. The police have arrested 18 for investigations, while two are absconding.