June 24, 2024, Monday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Govt.’s anti-corruption move fails to win people’s confidence

The Nepal Weekly
August 29, 2023
Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal “Prachanda”

The District Attorney’s Office, Kathmandu on Sunday filed cases of forgery of government documents at the District Court, Kathmandu against 310 individuals including former ministers and incumbent and retired top bureaucrats linking them to the Lalita Niwas land grab scam. This is probably the largest government land grab scam so far uncovered in the country.

As many as 52 people have been made defendants just for the purpose of recovering government lands. Twenty-one deceased persons are also on the list of defendants. But the goal is again to recover lands from those who grabbed the government-owned lands of Lalita Niwas, as per the charge sheet.

Of the total defendants, 18 have been arrested while others are at large, according to the charge sheet.

Those prosecuted for forgery include former deputy prime minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar; former ministers Chandra Deo Joshi, Dambar Bahadur Shrestha and Chhabi Raj Pant; and former minister of state Sanjay Sah.

Similarly, sitting government secretary Krishna Bahadur Raut and joint secretary Sushil Vaidya have also been made defendants in the case. The CIB had, however, recommended not to register a case against Raut.

Likewise, middlemen Shobhakant Dhakal and Ram Kumar Subedi, and Bhatbhateni Supermarket owner Min Bahadur Gurung, are other defendants whom the police had identified as key architects of the land scam.

Even though the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Police had also recommended filing cases against them for organised crime, the District Attorney’s Office chose only to register the case on the forgery of the government documents citing lack of evidence. The charge sheet has been filed against them on forgery case as organised crime could not be established on the basis of the available evidence.

Former Prime Ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Baburam Bhattarai avoided prosecution as police didn’t take their deposition (statement of potential offender) although the two were interrogated as government’s witnesses the other day. They were not arrested and questioned like other VIPs and ordinary people. The CIB officials went to their residence and collected their statements in a more polite manner.

The Nepal-led Cabinet had allowed the transfer of government land to individuals. And, the Bhattarai-led Cabinet had permitted the land’s registration in the name of an allegedly fake trust by the name of Pashupati Tikinchha Guthi. Nepal is the leader of one of the major coalition partners.

People have raised suspicion in the way the CIB is moving ahead with the Lalita Niwas scam. The investigation process is moving in a slow manner and VVIPs are not properly investigated into. Therefore, the government’s anti-corruption move has failed to satisfy the ordinary people.

In the 60 kg gold scam too master-mind has not yet landed in the hands of the police. Many top leaders and their spouses, who are allegedly linked to the scam are not yet dragged into the investigation process. Therefore, the people almost lost their faith in the much publicized anti-corrution move initiated by Home Minister Narayankaji Shrestha and the Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal “Prachanda.”