The justice system in Nepal is being tested by the arrest of two prominent politicians, sparking widespread debate about impunity and authoritarianism.
In October the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, was arrested after a health worker filed an allegation of attempted rape. A week later another MP, Aftab Alam, was arrested, accused of murder and possession of explosives.
In Alam’s case, the charges are based on accusations by relatives of two men injured – and then allegedly killed – while making bombs for an election campaign in 2006. Family members claim the bombs were intended to scare voters and block polling stations.
The two cases have shaken Nepal. In the aftermath of the 10-year civil war, justice for war crimes hasn’t been served and powerful people go unpunished. As a result, many Nepalis people have no faith in the legal system. Arrests of eminent politicians like Mahara and Alam are unprecedented. This time, strong allegations and pressure from activists has forced the government to act.
Nevertheless, the public is waiting to see whether two men remain in custody or under arrest during continuing police inquiries, whether the allegations hold up, and whether witnesses stick to their statements: several media reports allege that attempts have been made to threaten and bribe them.
Both men say they are innocent and neither has resigned their parliamentary seat.
Nepal is holding its breath in anticipation of the two court decisions.
/Sewa Bhattarai, Nepal
The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.