KATHMANDU, Aug 8: The Baburam Bhattarai-led government has backtracked from recommending amnesty to murder-convict Keshav Raj Nepal of Palpa after President Dr Ram Baran Yadav signaled that he would not approve any such recommendation.
Nepal joined the UCPN (Maoist) after the court convicted him for plotting to kill his own nephew in 1997, according to a former senior home ministry official. However, Nepal´s political affiliation, who was a UML cadre before joining the Maoists, could not be independently established.
A senior government official at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers said that recommending amnesty to Nepal was one of the agendas discussed in the cabinet meeting two weeks ago. "We were surprised when the proposal that was gathering dust for nearly a year was brought in the cabinet," said a source known to the development. "The cabinet had decided to forward the recommendation only after consulting the president."
The prime minister discussed the issue with the president during a recent meeting, said sources at the Prime Minister´s Office and the Office of the President. But the president asked the prime minister to "keep in mind" existing constitutional and legal provisions, they said. "The top bureaucrats at the prime minister´s office also advised the prime minister not to forward the recommendation until recommendations for enactment of election-related ordinances are made."
Another cabinet source said the agenda has now been "put on hold".
According to the affidavits accessed by Republica at the Supreme Court, a division bench comprising erstwhile Justices Kedar Prasad Giri and Min Bahadur Rayamajhi had convicted Nepal along with two other individuals for plotting to kill his nephew Jyoti Kumar Nepal in Bhaktapur in 1997. While passing the verdict, the court concluded that Nepal hatched the plot to murder his nephew after he came to know about the “illicit relation of his wife" with the nephew.
A former senior home ministry official told Republica that he had seen Nepal walking freely for the past two years even inside Singha Durbar, from one ministry to another, seeking amnesty. However, two of his accomplices -- Kamal Prasad Basyal of Palpa and Olang Jeling Rana Magar of Dhading -- have been serving jail terms.
The ex-official said the Maoist party protected him. But our Palpa correspondent Tek Narayan Bhattarai said neither the UCPN (Maoist) nor the CPN-UML is ready to own Nepal as their cadre.
It may be recalled that the present government had also recommended amnesty to Maoist leader Bal Krishna Dhungel, who has been promoted in the party, in last November. The president had refused to endorse six recommendations for pardon made by the erstwhile Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government in 2010 but the decision was kept secret, according to knowledgeable sources at the prime minister´s and president´s offices.