Bail hearing in the murder case against Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Mohammad Aftab Alam has started at the Rautahat District Court on Thursday.
The hearing on whether to keep him in custody or release him on date or bail has started before the bench of Justice Deepak Dhakal. Public prosecutors have started their arguments, according to Registrar at the court Gunaraj Parajuli.
Chief district government attorney Khadindra Katuwal, and district attorneys Surya Raj Dahal, Arjun Prasad Koirala and Rudra Prasad Panthi will plead on behalf of the government in the criminal case.
Senior advocates Shambhu Thapa, Raman Shrestha, Sher Bahadur KC, Gopal Krishna Ghimire, Prem Bahadur Khadka, and advocates Sunil Pokharel and Yogendra Bahadur Adhikari will plead on Alam's behalf, according to Adhikari.
The District Government Attorney Office of Rautahat had registered the case at the district court on Monday charging Alam of burning persons injured in a bomb explosion alive to destroy evidence over 11 years ago.
Recording of Alam's statement began on Tuesday.
Ten persons including Alam, his kid brother with the same name, Mohammad Mobin Alam, Sheikh Bhadai, Sheikh Seraj, Sheikh Fazal-e-Haq, Sagir Alam, Sheikh Malkar, Gauri Shankar Sah and Badri Sahani have been charged of brutal murder. Mukti Sah has been charged as an accomplice for trying to cover up the incident.
All the others apart from Alam are absconding.
The public prosecutors have sought jail term of up to 32 years against them including two years for explosives, 20 years for murder, and 10 years for attempt to murder.
Rautahat Police had submitted an investigation report to the office on Friday stating that a few persons were killed and a few others injured in a bomb explosion in Rajpur-4 of the district on April 9, 2008 before the first Constituent Assembly (CA) election.
Spokesperson with Rautahat Police DSP Navin Karki said investigation has showed that Osi Akhtar of Sarattha, Rautahat and Trilok Singh (Pintu) were killed after the explosion while two including Safi Ahmed of Sarlahi were injured.
Ahmed is the strongest witness for the police now. He has told the police that he was injured in the explosion while making bombs, and fled to save his life, according to a source. He had injuries on chest and abdomen during the explosion.
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 Alam 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 later 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.
"Some evidence of the incident seem to exist on the basis of the complaints identifying the perpetrators; recovery of sweater, high-neck, black socks, and black shoes of Osi Akhtar Miya at the site of incident; statement of Sarjul Miya; and field reports of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nepal Bar Association (NBA), and other human rights organization," the Karki duo ruled.
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.
A SC order three months ago seems to have led to arrest of Alam.
A joint bench of Justices Anil Sinha and Kumar Regmi three months back had ordered the Office of Attorney General to submit a report about progress in investigation of the incident and current situation within 30 days.
Advocate Pushpa Raj Paudel had moved the SC making the Office of Attorney General defendant as that order was not enforced. The bench of Sinha and Regmi hearing that petition on June 21 had ordered the Office of Attorney General to that regard, and also reminded the office that it was both its duty and right to implement the court order.
"Who were appointed investigating officers during which period in the complaint filed by Sri Narayan Singh and Ruksana Khatun as per that order, and how has the investigation moved forward? What are the works that have been completed till now? What are the reasons for failure to complete investigation in the past seven years? Do investigate about these questions and coordinate with other relevant bodies for information, and submit a confidential report to this court including detailed periodic details of all the works done until now within 30 days of receiving this order," the bench had ordered. It had also ordered the office to send monthly updates until the court order is implemented.
The Office of Attorney General would have been held in contempt of court for failing to submit the progress report as demanded by the court.