Kathmandu, February 3
Nepal’s government is closely observing the international community’s reaction to the arrest of CK Raut, a ‘free Madhesh’ campaigner, on Thursday.
The government wants to make it clear to the international community that Raut’s case is not that of ‘free speech’, it’s more of ‘hate speech’, a Cabinet source told Onlinekhabar.
About a fortnight ago, Raut addressed a mass gathering in Siraha district headquarters Lahan and made ‘secessionist remarks’. Siraha police then issued an arrest warrant against him. Officials say he will be tried at the Kathmandu district court on sedition charges.
According to the Cabinet source, in his briefing to the Prime Minister, Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi said Raut’s activities were getting out of hand, and he had to be arrested. Nidhi informed the PM that Raut had to be released the last time he was arrested for lack of evidence. This time, we have evidence that he made secessionist remarks, and we will use that against him in court, the Minister was quoted as saying.
Another source told Onlinekhabar that that the government was under pressure from the Madheshi Morcha to detain Raut. Ruling coalition leaders feel that the looming shadow of Raut does not help create a conducive political environment in Madhesh, necessary for local level elections.
The Cabinet source said the government is worried that the international community might raise Raut’s issue, and give him ‘prisoner of conscience’ status. He is a secessionist, who is abusing his right to free speech, the source said. “We do not want the West or rights NGOs to make it an issue,” the source said. “We are closely observing the international reaction.”
In a recent interview with Onlinekhabar, prominent human rights activist Krishna Pahadi had said: Raut is not a prisoner of conscience. He has called ‘mother’ Nepal a ‘prostitute’. This amounts to hate speech.
Published on February 3rd, Friday, 2017 4:12 PM