KATHMANDU, Jan 25: Lenin Bista, who is coordinator of former combatants disqualified by UNMIN and who has reportedly absconded with Rs 1.5 million, claims that Peace Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi had demanded Rs 700,000 out of the amount allocated for the former combatants.
Bista and his team had cashed a Rs 1.5 million cheque issued by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction on Monday as per an agreement with the government.
However, the Ministry of Peace got them arrested for not depositing the money with the party, said Bista.
Bista, who was remanded for seven days on Thursday, a day after his arrest, told Republica, “I was asked for Rs 700,000 through Minister Rayamajhi´s personal assistant, but we were unable to fulfill the demand in time.”
“We have been accused of running away with the money but we have no reason to run as we all are together paying off our debts at different places", he said.
However, Gopal Rokaya, personal assistant to Minister Rayamajhi, said, “We didn´t demand Rs 700,000 from them but the party was asking for return of the loans provided to the former combatants during their one-month protest at Parisdanda.”
He said the party had lent them Rs 468,300 in total for meeting their daily expenses during the protest. “They had promised to pay back the amount once their cheque was issued but none of them remained in contact after getting the money," he said.
Bista, for his part, said that they were ready to pay back the amount but the minister demanded more from as a bribe, and that was not possible as they had to pay off a lot of debts. “When we were unable to pay him as demanded I was framed.”
According to ministry sources, the amount was allocated according to a cabinet decision for distribution among the former combatants so that they could return home and meet their personal expenses.
Rokaya said that after getting the money Bista neither distributed the money among the combatants nor repaid the party loans. So they were compelled to have them arrested.
Bista said that he distributed Rs 700,000 to the coordinators of the seven cantonments and the debts were repaid on Tuesday. He said he has about Rs 350,000 left after making the payments.
The other three ex combatants - Ramesh Basyal, Bharat Rokaya and Lal Chandra BK - who were arrested along with Bista, were released on Thursday after paying the bail amount.
The 4,008 disqualified former combatants, who prefer to call themselves ´unverified´, had been staging a series of protests in the past few months, demanding that the government provide them various facilities.
Following the protests, they were designated by the government as ´UNMIN discharged´.