A prominent activist from Nepal’s Madhesh region who is seeking inclusion of the right to secede in the country’s new constitution has been arrested for anti-national activities.
Dr CK Raut, a PhD from University of Cambridge and a former employee of Raytheon, a US defense contractor, was arrested on Saturday evening in Morang district in eastern Nepal while returning home from a public rally.
“He has been charged with public offence. Investigations are on and more charges could be pressed later if any involvement in anti-national activities is confirmed,” said Nepal Police spokesperson TP Lamsal.
Both the activist and his associate Satyanarayan Mandal who were arrested together were produced in a district court on Sunday and remanded to police custody for six days.
Raut, who returned from US to Nepal in 2011, is the central coordinator of Alliance for Independent Madhesh, which is seeking establishment of an independent and sovereign Madhesh, the plain region in southern Nepal.
A computer scientist, social activist and author, Raut’s organization wants Madhesh to secede from Nepal through peaceful and non-violent means.
His arrest has already created a stir in Nepal with rights activists within the country and abroad terming it extra-judicial and an attack on freedom of speech and expression.
“AHRC urges the government of Nepal to immediately release Dr CK Raut and Mandal,” Asian Human Rights Commission stated in a letter to Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
More than two dozen human rights activists in Nepal and several political parties from the Madhesh have also demanded Raut’s release.
Madhesh, which borders India, comprise nearly half of Nepal’s total population of 27 million. There has been uprisings in past in the region demanding more inclusion and equality for people from the region.
With the country drafting a new constitution the demand has gained more momentum with Madheshi parties seeking inclusion of provisions that guarantee equal rights to Madheshis and ensure development of the region.