Confessions of a Maoist

A culture of impunity may stall justice in the Dekendra murder case

A confession by a "murderer" in political guise, eight years after the incident, threatens to reveal the most cruel and ugliest face of the Maoist insurgency, with unanticipated political implications. Lakshi Ram Gharti Magar, a district-level leader of the Maoist party, said a week ago that after the murder of journalist Dekendra Thapa based in the western Dailekh district, he felt like a criminal, and decided that the best way to mitigate his agony was to reveal every thing. "That way, Dekendra's soul will rest in peace," he said.

Giving details of the crime, he said Dekendra was captured by the party and tortured, and finally buried alive. This confession appears to give the lie to Maoist chief Prachanda's public statement about four years ago that his party had given specific instructions to the cadres to carry out executions inflicting the least pain to the victims. Less than 48 hours after Gharti Magar's confession, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai clarified before party cadres that the arrests of Gharti Magar and four others were not carried out under government instruction. Worse, Attorney General Mukti Pradhan instructed the Dailekh district attorney's office not to take the case forward. A PM apologetic about the arrest of a man as per his own wishes speaks volumes about the culture of impunity. But Bhattarai also had the taste of being defied as the police refused to entertain any pressure.

Journalists and human rights groups have descended on the capital's streets outside the PM's office and residence as well as in Dailekh. Not only is Bhattarai facing his worst political nightmare, but his defence of the crime has punctured the hopes of key stakeholders in Nepal's peace process who, only two years ago, lobbied hard to have Bhattarai as PM, asserting that he is the only pro-democracy, pro-human rights and pro-market face in the Maoist party. The US even took the Maoists off its terror list after Bhattarai's takeover.

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