It is a welcome deed of the concerned authority, though very late-after eight years of incident-, that five among eight allegedly involved in abduction and subsequent killing of journalist Dekendra Thapa were arrested on January 4, 2013.
The District Police Office, Dailekh arrested five persons all belonging to then Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Still, four are the district level leaders and cadres of the ruling Unified Community Party of Nepal (Maoist), and one of the breakaway faction, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
They are Laxmi Ram Gharti Magar of Dwari VDC-1, Bir Bahadur KC of Baluwatar VDC-7, Nirak Bahadur Gharti Magar of Baluwatar-9, and Harilal Pun Magar of Dwari VDC-3, and Jay Bahadur Shahi, a resident of Raniban VDC-1.
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 have launched a manhunt to arrest the trio, it is learnt.
“According to Laxmi Magar´s preliminary statement, nine people were directly involved in Thapa´s murder,” said Police Inspector Binod Sharma.
Following the arrest, Thapa´s wife Laxmi said that she could now hope to see her husband´s killers behind the bars.
"Arrest of the killers after long has given me a hope," said Laxmi, reported the Republica daily today.
Journalist Thapa was abducted on June 26, 2004 and found killed later.
Thapa was the reporter with the Radio Nepal from Dailekh, a far-western region of Nepal when he was abducted.
Freedom Forum now expects fair investigation by the police administration and stringent actions on the culprit. The arrest of the alleged killers has obviously given a relief to the concerned family and media persons across the country too.
Earlier, on December 18, 2011, had expressed concerned over the ill-efforts of the UCPN-Maoist leaders to withdraw the murder case of journalist Dekendra Thapa.
Former prime minister and chairman of the UCPN-Maoist, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and then Vice-Chairman Mohan Baidya (now chairman of CPN-Maoist) had given undue pressure to the Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to withdraw the murder case of Dailekha-based journalist Thapa.
Local reporter to the Radio Nepal, journalist Thapa was abducted and subsequently killed by the UCPN-Maoist (then CPN-Maoist) cadres on August 10, 2004. He was abducted from Chhanna Bazar of Bhawani VDC on June 4, 2004.
The murder of journalist Thapa was confirmed by the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by excavating the dead body on June 25, 2008 in the presence of a team of forensic experts.
Dekendra's wife, Laxmi had filed FIR in the District Police Office, against Maoist cadres- Bag Bahadur Khadka, Keshav Khadka, Lachhiram Gharti and Bam Bahadur Khadka on August on August 29, 2008. However, no action is taken against them.
Now, the Maoist party which is leading the government is making ill efforts to release the party cadres convicted of various crimes. The recent effort to cancel/withdraw the murder case implicating the party cadres comes as a series of political protection to the criminals.
Freedom Forum condemns the pressure put on the Prime Minister to withdraw the murder case. Rather, the Forum urges the government to punish those involved in the heinous crime.
"With the rising state of impunity in the country, if the government withdraws this case as well, it becomes sheer mockery of rule of law and media freedom. So, the government must not withdraw but take stern action to all involved in the murder. The political protection to the criminals is a great threat to rule of law," says Freedom Forum Chairman, Taranath Dahal.
Meanwhile, with the legal facilitation of the Freedom Forum, the attackers on journalist Govinda KC of Dailekh district have been arrested.