KIRAN CHAPAGAIN /KIRAN PUN
KATHMANDU, Sept 13: The government is likely to request India for clemency to ten Maoist leaders including four sitting lawmakers and politburo leaders convicted on treason charges by an Indian high court recently.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayankaji Shrestha told Republica that the government on Monday approached the office of the attorney general for advice.
"We have asked the attorney general to study the legal procedure and how the issue can be resolved," Shrestha said when asked how the government and the Maoist party would deal with the verdict of the Patna High Court.
In a recent decision, the Patna High Court convicted lawmakers Lokendra Bista, Chitra Bahadur Shrestha, Tara Gharti and Dilip Maharjan. Similarly, others convicted include Maoist leaders Kul Prasad KC, Anil Sharma, Kumar Dahal, Min Prasad Chapagain, Hit Bahadur Tamanag and Shyam Kishor Yadav Bista and KC are politburo members of the Maoist party while Bista and Tamang are former ministers. The court slapped jail terms ranging from two years to six years, and fine on the Maoist leaders.
In a commando raid in June 2004, the Indian security officials had arrested the Maoist leaders from five places in Bihar where they had gone for treatment, accusing them of having connection with Indian Maoists, which have been fighting against the Indian government, and thus amounting to treason.
The leaders were underground at that time in Nepal and were labeled as terrorists by the then Nepal government.
According to Bista, they were released on bail after two years as the Maoists joined the peace process and joined the mainstream politics.
A source said that the attorney general is likely to advise the government to ask the Indian government through diplomatic channel for clemency.
Prime Minister´s aide Bishwadeep Pandey told Republica that the Office of the Prime Minister has started diplomatic efforts to settle the issue on Monday.
This is the second case of Nepali politicians convicted in an Indian court. Nepali Congress leader Chakra Prasad Bastola was convicted by a court in Arariya, Bihar, for his involvement in the hijacking of a Nepali plane in the early 1970s. His case was dropped when he became Nepali Ambassador to India in the early 1990s through diplomatic channel.
In the meantime, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shrestha, who is also the Maoist vice-chairman, said that the government and the Maoist party have taken the court verdict with surprise.
"We had expected the Indian government to withdraw the cases against our leaders much earlier. But we came to know now that the cases have not been withdrawn. The verdict came as a surprise," Shrestha said.
Similarly, former Minister Bista has questioned the timing of the verdict. "Why did the court pass the verdict at this time after five years?"
Published on 2011-09-13 00:00:01