The then Nepal Police IGP Om Bikram Rana has expressed ignorance about the bomb explosion near the house of Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Mohammad Aftab Alam over 11 years ago and the alleged murder of injured persons after that.
Speaking to Setopati Sunday evening, Rana said he was not briefed about that incident and knew about that while reading newspapers Sunday morning after he returned from pilgrimage.
Rana, who headed the Nepal Police from August 2006-August 2008, claimed there were many explosions across the country in the election held after the then Maoists joined mainstream politics reasoning it was hard for him to follow every incident by himself.
"There was Constituent Assembly (CA) election at the time. Home minister, home secretary and myself were busy visiting all 75 districts and briefing about election. I, therefore, don't remember about this particular incident," he reminisced.
He stressed that legal action should be taken if what is reported in the media about the incident is true.
He insisted that he was not briefed about the incident even when pointed how the then incharge of Rajpur Police Station and Inspector Indra Subedi claims that he was transferred on the night of the explosion itself. "The SP in the district can transfer an inspector on deputation. It need not come to the IGP," he argued.
The then SP Laxman Neupane, who was later lynched in Tikapur before the promulgation of Constitution in 2015, was Rautahat chief at the time.
Rana claimed that he was not briefed about the incident throughout his term that ended five months after the bomb explosion. "One can complain with the district government attorney's office or CDO if the district police office doe not accept it. One could have gone to the zonal police office or regional police office, that were in existence then, to register the complaint. It would come to the Nepal Police headquarters only after all that," he elaborated. "I don't recall such complaint arriving at the headquarters. I don't remember the incident as it is covered in the media right now."
He ruled out the then home minister Krishna Sitaula, from the same party as Alam's, talking to him about the incident. "I myself did not know about the incident. What would I talk with them. We never talked about that," he added.
He indirectly passed the buck to the media implying that the fourth estate may have failed in its duty. "It became a big issue now that it has been extensively covered in the media. We would have known if it were similarly covered even then."
Alam was arrested from his residence at Rajpur municipality 1 in Rautahat district on October 13 by a special team sent by the Nepal Police headquarters.
Background of the case
Two persons were killed and over a dozen injured in a bomb explosion at Pharhadawa of Rautahat on April 9, 2008 before the first Constituent Assembly (CA) election. Most of the injured persons were Indians and all of them suddenly disappeared a few days after the incident.
Families of two of the missing Nepali citizens complained with the police some time later claiming that the explosion occurred while making bombs to help Alam win the election and he burned 11 injured persons in the furnace of a nearby brick factory alive to cover up the incident.
Police sat on the complaint filed by Sheikh Ruksana Khatun and Shree Narayan Singh, and Alam won the CA election.
Police secretly investigated the case and found that Alam had hired Indians from across the border to make bombs to capture polling stations, and the villagers corroborated the claims of complainants.
Alam went to the Rautahat Police on June 23, 2008 after being summoned and the police prepared a case against Alam and his five cadres. But the case was never filed after the Office of the Attorney General instructed the District Attorney's Office to that regard on July 14, 2008.
Khatun and Singh moved the Supreme Court (SC) against the decision of District Attorney's Office and Alam, even as Alam became labor and transportation minister in the Madhav Kumar Nepal government in 2009.
A joint bench of the then SC justices Sushila Karki and Bharat Bahadur Karki hearing the petition filed by Khatun and Singh ordered arrest of the defendants and investigation but the order was not executed.
Khatun and Singh then complained with the Judgement Execution Directorate which again ordered Alam's arrest. But powerful Alam, who could even get officers he wanted deployed as Rautahat Police chief, was again not arrested.
Khatun was murdered in the meantime and other victims of the incident also could not speak after that.
Why has he been arrested now?
A person used by Alam to make bombs in 2008 has now come in contact with the police and claimed he has witnessed Alam and his cadres throwing the persons injured in the incident in the furnace of a nearby brick factory.
The witness is now under police protection and the police claim to have found evidence of Alam having a hand even in murder of Khatun.
IGP Sarbendra Khanal told Setopati that Alam has been arrested after gathering sufficient evidence. "The complainant was shot at the time and the families of victims also were not in a state to speak for investigation. The time is favorable now. We also found evidence after intensifying investigation. He has, therefore, been arrested," IGP Khanal elaborated.
Khanal was SP with the Kathmandu Police at the time of incident in Rautahat in 2008. He was coincidentally transferred to Narayani zonal office after being promoted to SSP. Khanal, who had investigated the case even then, was familiar with Alam's crimes.
Alam has now been arrested by a team sent from the headquarters on his instruction.
The police are preparing the case of murdering 14 persons—including the two killed during the explosion, 11 injured during the explosion and later burnt alive, and Khatun—against Alam.