The District Court of Rukum West has sentenced 23 individuals to life imprisonment for the murder of six people, including Nabaraj BK, which happened three and a half years ago in Sotigaun in Chaurjahari Municipality.
On Tuesday, the bench of District Court Judge Khadak Bahadur KC handed down life sentences to 23 individuals, including the then Ward Chair Dambar Bahadur Malla. The charges include brutal murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and hostage-taking, as well as caste discrimination and untouchability. Those sentenced to life imprisonment must serve a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Govinda Prasad Koirala, the information officer of the District Court Rukum West, revealed that several individuals have been sentenced to life imprisonment in the case, including Nabaraj’s girlfriend’s father (identity withheld), a minor (identity withheld)), Prem Bahadur Thakuri, Santosh Malla, Mohan Pun, Man Bahadur Malla, Top Bahadur Malla, Sabin Pun, Dilli Malla Thakuri, Tilak Chand, Indra Bahadur Thakuri, Lipendra Kumar Malla, and Harka Bahadur Malla.
Additionally, Binod Malla, Netra Bahadur Malla, Resham Bahadur Malla, Dhanraj Rana, Nabin Gharti, Bhim Pun, Biraj Pun, Bishnu Malla, and Ramit Magar, have also been sentenced to life imprisonment. Currently, they are in custody.
Nabaraj BK’s girlfriend, mother and brother were acquitted of murder, but convicted of caste-based discrimination. They have each been imprisoned for two years and fined Rs 50,000. Information Officer Koirala said, “Earlier, those released on bail were acquitted of the charge of murder.”
The girl, her mother and minor brother have been found guilty only on the charge of caste-based discrimination. Information Officer Koirala has indicated that an order has been issued to compensate the families of each victim at the rate of Rs 40,000.
Dipendra Chand, Tul Bahadur Malla, Indra Bahadur Malla, Bhim Bahadur Budha, Dilli Gharti, Lokendra Gharti, Tularam Gharti and Saurabh Pun have been acquitted in all cases.
Minor also imprisoned
The District Court Rukum West Information Officer provided details about the verdict, stating that the 23 individuals currently in custody have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Additionally, it was mentioned that a minor under the guardianship of someone else has also been imprisoned for life.
However, as per the Act Relating to Children, minors are typically sentenced to a maximum of 75 per cent of the regular sentence. Even if sentenced to life, they do not have to be imprisoned for the full 25 years. Koirala, however, did not disclose the extent to which the sentence of the minor was reduced under the provisions of the Children’s Act.
On May 23, 2020, 21-year-old Nabaraj BK from Bheri Municipality-4 in Jajarkot, along with his friends, arrived at Soti village in Rukum West intending to marry his girlfriend. Unfortunately, during that time, the girl’s relatives and villagers chased and attacked them, resulting in the deaths of six individuals, including Nabaraj BK, Ganesh Budhamgar, Sanjeev (Sanju) BK, Lokendra Sunar, and Gobinda Shahi from Jajarkot, and Tikaram Nepali from Rukum West. Additionally, 12 people were injured in the incident.
The District Government Attorney’s Office in Rukum West filed a case in the district court against 34 individuals, including two minors, on charges of murder, attempted murder, abduction, hostage-taking, and advocating for life imprisonment for the offences of racial discrimination and untouchability.
Following the hearing, the District Court Rukum West ruled for the release of Dipendra Chand, Tul Bahadur Malla, and Indra Bahadur Malla among the accused. Similarly, Nabaraj BK’s girlfriend’s mother was granted release on bail with a set amount of Rs 100,000, while the remaining individuals were ordered to be jailed.
During the appeal hearing against the arrest order at Surkhet High Court, Nabaraj BK’s girlfriend and her brother were ordered to be released on a general date. Additionally, the Supreme Court directed the release on bail of Bhim Bahadur Budha, Dilli Gharti, Lokendra Gharti, Tularam Gharti, and Saurabh Pun.
According to the Nepal Police investigation report into the incident, when Nabaraj BK and his friends visited the girl’s house, the girl’s mother abused her. Subsequently, she contacted Dambar Bahadur Malla, the ward chair of Chaurjahari-8, and other villagers. Fearing for their lives, Nabaraj BK and his friends fled upon realising that villagers were approaching. The police report indicates that the girl’s relatives and villagers pursued and killed them one by one.
Police investigations revealed a total of 31 individuals were directly involved in the incident. This included Dambar Bahadur Malla, the ward chair of Chaurjahari Municipality-8, as well as Nabaraj BK’s girlfriend, her mother, and her grandfather, Indra Bahadur Malla. They were accused of being instigators of the entire incident that resulted in six young men losing their lives.