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Editorial: Nothing but the truth

Editorial: Nothing but the truth
Who would not want their very own plot close by the Prime Minister’s Official Residence at Baluwatar, all for free? If wishes were horses, beggars would ride them, wouldn’t they? Close by the famous address lies swathes of land—government-owned land called Lalita Niwas. How could this prime property not have drawn the attention of the all-powerful land mafia?

Well, it did. Pretty soon, a nexus developed around some powerful politicians, wily bureaucrats and equally powerful business interests. Pretty soon, new ‘private owners’ of the government property emerged. As they say, with a little help from friends in high places, nothing is impossible, right?

But the plot does not end there. A widening police probe, launched a couple years ago, has brought some powerful figures from politics, bureaucracy and the business community under its dragnet. Out of the seven people arrested in a recent swoop, former Joint Secretary Kaladhar Deuja, former Under-secretary Hupendramani KC, and Surendra Kapali were released within a few hours of their arrest after a Supreme Court interim order instructed the authorities to probe the individuals by keeping them out of custody. Former Commissioner of the Election Commission Sudhir Kumar Shah, Director of Bhatbhateni Supermarket Min Bahadur Gurung, Dharma Prasad Gautam, and Gopal Karki remain in police custody as part of the investigation that has already netted a former deputy prime minister, two former land reforms ministers and three government secretaries. As the investigation into the infamous land-grab continues, a couple of questions arise. How could the government leadership of the time not have known what was going on under its very powerful nose? What will happen to this high-profile scam? Will politicization of crime and criminalization of politics, going on unabated in this country, scuttle the probe, much to the relief of more high-profile figures at the cost of the people’s right to know uncensored truth? Questions like these naturally arise because the investigation into another high-profile scam—the Bhutanese refugee scam—has raised similar uncomfortable questions. The government should be mindful that thorough probes into high-profile scams and action against those found guilty are necessary to cleanse the governance system and restore people’s faith in it. It should not forget that half-hearted probes will not serve the purpose. Chances are that they may be seen as attempts to settle old scores. Therefore, the onus is on the government to prove that it has no other motive behind these probes than bringing out the truth. The sooner the government realizes that the public deserve the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the better.