Opposition party not weighing in

KATHMANDU, March 20: In a parliamentary system, the main opposition party in parliament is supposed to act as a watchdog against any wrongdoings of the ruling party or parties. Ironically, cadres of the main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) have involved themselves in activities that would justify wrongdoings by the government also.

Criticism has abounded after Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa reached Bir Hospital to offer fruit juice and break the hunger strike of Resham Chaudhary, the alleged mastermind of the Tikapur massacre in which armed protestors lynched seven people including Senior Superintendent of Police Laxman Neupane and a toddler. The Chaudhary case is currently sub judice.

The juice offer, which mocks the spirit of rule of law, failed to draw the attention of the opposition party. Instead, cadres of the party themselves organized a protest demonstration demanding the release of their leader Ganesh Lama. Lama was arrested after he was found in possession of an illegal weapon.

While the NC cadres staged a torch rally in Banepa on Saturday demanding Lama's release and clashed briefly with police, Home Minister Thapa had reached Bir Hospital on Friday to offer juice to Chaudhary and break his hunger strike.

Experts said the actions of both the minister and the opposition party cadres are objectionable as such conduct would only promote impunity in Nepal.

Legal expert Bipin Adhikari said that the opposition party activists demanding the release of Lama were guided by personal interests and would only help the ruling parties which are trying to give a clean chit to Tikapur-accused Chaudhary.

"If these activities are aimed at fostering impunity for Lama and Chaudhary, it is an absolutely wrong move. The opposition party should allow the legal process to run its course in the Lama case and act as a watchdog if the ruling parties try to let Chaudhary off the hook," he said.

He further said, "Chaudhary's is a case of heinous crime and remains sub judice. Many eyewitnesses have recorded their statements and it is just a matter of time before the court finds against him. Any move calculated to get the charges against Chaudhary dropped or ensure impunity for him in any other way will uncover a criminal mindset among the political parties," he said.

He further said the opposition party should talk about neither freeing Lama nor impunity for Chaudary but should instead pressure the government to ensure that due process prevails.

He added that human rights activists will play the role of the opposition from the streets if the opposition party remains a mute spectator even as the government tries to obstruct the legal process to save Chaudhary's skin.

"If human rights activists have to take on the role of the opposition, it will not redound to the glory of the opposition party," he added.