CDO, DSP removed for 'not opening fire at protestors'
DAILEKH, Jan 25: In the wake of violent clashes that erupted in Dailekh after the opposition parties tried to prevent UCPN (Maoist) leaders including Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal from entering the district, the government recalled or transferred Dailekh´s Chief District Officer (CDO) and police chief on Thursday.
Although the government cited the failure on the part of CDO Umesh Kumar Dhakal and DSP Sharada Prasad Chaudhary in maintaining law and order in Dailekh as the reason behind their abrupt recall or transfer, opposition parties said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and the police headquarters recalled them following ´a direct order from PM Bhattarai´.
Dailekh-based leaders of the opposition parties including Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (UML) have alleged that PM Bhattarai ordered CDO Dhakal and DSP Chaudhary´s removal as they refused to obey his instruction to open fire at the locals protesting against the government´s interference in the ongoing investigation of slain journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa.
Police inspectors Indra Prasad Subedi and Kiran Neupane also left Dailekh Wednesday night following orders from the police headquarters. Although CDO Dhakal and DSP Chaudhary were ordered to leave Dailekh on Wednesday night, they left the district only on Thursday morning. They took a detour while leaving for Surkhet to avoid the locals gathered on the main road to stop them from leaving Dailekh.
Sources at the District Police Office of Dailekh claim that the headquarters has already sent a transfer letter also to inspector Binod Sharma, who is now recording statement of five Maoist cadres charged with murdering journalist Thapa. Earlier this month, inspector Sharma had arrested the men accused in Thapa murder case and recorded their statements despite disapproval by PM Bhattarai. Sharma was appointed as chief investigator in Thapa murder case by DSP Chaudhary.
Opposition parties describe the removal of CDO and police officers as a ploy by the government to halt investigation into Thapa´s murder. “Failure in maintaining law and order is just a pretext to halt investigation into Thapa´s murder,” said Tek Bahadur Katwal, Dailekh district president of Nepal Tarun Dal, a youth wing of the NC.
At a corner meet at Devkota chowk of Dailekh on Thursday, opposition leaders said they would launch stronger protest program on Friday, when the three-day Dailekh district convention of UCPN (Maoist) concludes and Maoist leaders and cadres return home.
On Wednesday, PM Bhattarai and Maoist Chairman Dahal had arrived in Dailekh to attend the inauguration ceremony of the convention. Violent clashes had erupted after cadres of the opposition parties waved black flags and pelted stones when Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha was addressing the convention. Over 50 people were injured in ensuing clashes.
Nepal Tarun Dal leader Katwal has warned of taking revenge against UCPN (Maoist) cadres for injuring NC cadres. “We will not forget how Maoist cadres thrashed our cadres with the backing of police force,” said Katwal. “We will definitely take revenge.”
Superintendent of Police (SP) Mohan Raj Joshi has replaced DSP Chaudhary as Dailekh district police chief, which is against the MoHAs´s own policy. In remote and hill districts like Dailekh, especially DSPs are deployed as police chiefs. On Wednesday, DIG Tapendra Dhwaj Hamal, who had reached Dailekh to arrange security for Maoist leaders, had ordered his subordinate officers to open fire at protestors at PM Bhattarai´s behest. But, the police fired only in the air and used tear-gas shells. Opposition leaders say DIG Hamal also protected cadres of Young Communist League (YCL) of UCPN (Maoist), who thrashed protestors.
Meanwhile, MoHA has formed a probe panel to find out what led to Wednesday´s violent clash in Dailekh. The panel led by joint secretary Laxmi Prasad Dhakal includes DIG Gopal Prasad Bhandari (Nepal Police), DIG Uttam Khadka (Armed Police Force) and Dilip Karki, investigation director of National Investigation Department. The panel members reached Dailekh on Thursday itself.