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Ministers and their misdeeds

'Misdeeds' of ministers is a malaise in Nepal too. Take new information minister Agni Sapkota, a former teacher who has another aspect to his past-— that of an alleged murder.

world Updated: May 09, 2011 00:07 IST
Utpal Parashar

'Misdeeds' of ministers is a malaise in Nepal too. Take new information minister Agni Sapkota, a former teacher who has another aspect to his past-— that of an alleged murder.

Sapkota, a Maoist central committee member and five party colleagues allegedly abducted and murdered Arjun Bahadur Lama, a teacher from Kavre district six years ago during the civil war.

The body was never recovered. In March 2008, acting on a petition by Lama's wife Purni Maya, the Supreme Court directed authorities to lodge a case of abduction and murder against Sapkota and five others.

While authorities continue to soft-pedal on the case, Sapkota and his party insist probe should be conducted by the truth and reconciliation commission, which is yet to be set up five years after the peace deal.

But the minute Sapkota's name figured among Maoist ministers who joined the Jhalanath Khanal government last week, the UN office for human rights in Nepal (UNOHCHR-N) questioned the move.

Rather than answer uncomfortable queries, the PM remained mum. His press advisor blamed Maoists for forwarding Sapkota's name. And true to his name Sapkota lashed at the UN body for "interfering in Nepal's internal issues".

Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Nepal's new home minister who was allotted the portfolio despite stiff resistance from the PM's party was also in headlines for wrong reasons.

Last September, a phone conversation of Mahara allegedly seeking NRs 500 million from a 'Chinese friend' to bribe 50 lawmakers to vote for Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the PM, surfaced.

Despite the initial brouhaha, the matter soon got buried.

A cartoon in a local newspaper showing Mahara headed for the home minister's chair shaped like a phone rekindled memories.

Last month, minister of state for finance Lhar Kyal Lama resigned after details of him having an Indian passport, a Nepali passport as well as a Tibetan refugee identity card emerged.

The past does have a strange way of catching up. Jhalanath Khanal and several of his ministerial colleagues would agree.