DAILEKH, Jan 6: Eight years after journalist Dekendra Thapa was killed allegedly by Maoist cadres, police have arrested five people in connection to his abduction and murder.
KALENDRA SEJUWAL/GOVINDA KC
Of the five people arrested by the District Police Office, Dailekh in the last three days, four are district-level leaders and cadres of the UCPN (Maoist) while one is now affiliated to the CPN-Maoist, a breakaway faction of the former.
Police had arrested one of the four accused, Laxmi Ram Gharti Magar of Dwari VDC-1, Dailekh, on Thursday, four years after Thapa´s wife Laxmi lodged a written complaint against four district-level leaders and cadres of the UCPN (Maoist).
Acting on Magar´s statement, police arrested Bir Bahadur KC of Baluwatar VDC-7, Nirak Bahadur Gharti Magar of Baluwatar-9, and Harilal Pun Magar of Dwari VDC-3, on Friday. Jay Bahadur Shahi, a resident of Raniban VDC-1, who was holed up in former lawmaker Bharat Regmi´s house, was arrested on Saturday.
However, Bam Bahadur Khadka of Katti VDC, Bam Bahadur Khadka of Chhiudipusakot VDC and Keshav Khadka of Dwari VDC, who were accused by Thapa´s wife apart from Laxmi Gharti Magar, are yet to be arrested. Police say they have launched a manhunt to arrest the trio.
“According to Laxmi Magar´s preliminary statement, nine people were directly involved in Thapa´s murder,” Police Inspector Binod Sharma said. “We will arrest the other accused very soon.”
On Saturday, a group of Maoist cadres, led by former lawmaker Regmi, had gone to the District Police Office to exert pressure on the police to release their party fellows. But, the locals, who were happy at the arrest of Thapa´s murder, prevented them from entering into the police office.
Thapa´s wife Laxmi has said that she can now hope to see her husband´s killers behind the bars. “Since no arrest was made for so many years, I had lost hope. I felt that I would never get justice,” said Laxmi. “But, now I can hope that my husband´s murderers will be brought to book.”
Similarly, Thapa´s older brother Bhesh Raj said, “Police have proved that the laws still exist in the country.” He urged the Maoist leaders not to interfere with police investigation. “Instead of pressurizing police to release them, we should help police in their investigation,” said he.
Thapa was abducted on June 26, 2004. He was later found murdered. On August 16, 2004, a Maoist rebel commander had revealed that Thapa was ´executed´ on August 11. Thapa was working as a reporter for Radio Nepal from Dailekh when he was abducted. He was also the chairman of a local drinking water project.
Thapa´s murder had created a hue and cry among Nepali and international journalists, prompting Krishna Bahadur Mahara, then a Maoist rebel leader, to write a letter to Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) saying that his party respects press freedom and will help investigation of Thapa´s murder.