NEPAL: Police resort to encounter killing of child abductors

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is concerned by the police encounter killing of Ajay Tamang and Gopal Tamang on 6 August 2018. A team from the Metropolitan Police Crime Division shot dead Ajay and Gopal after the police figured out that they killed 11-year-old Nishan Khadka on Sunday evening from Kandaghari of Bhaktapur district.

Ajay (23) and Gopal (22) were small-time construction laborers who used to frequent an eatery managed by Nishan’s mother, Chameli. That Sunday, Chameli informed one of them that her husband has sent money from Malaysia, which sparked the idea of kidnapping for easy money. There is no indication that Ajay and Gopal were hard-core criminals.

They abducted Nishan and demanded NPR 4 million in ransom from his mother Chameli Khadka. Chameli received a call at around 9 p.m. on Sunday, August 5, saying that her son has been abducted, and demanding a ransom. Afraid, Chameli called her relatives, who in turn informed the police.

The police immediately formed many patrol teams, and started to search around Bhaktapur. The police also sent an SMS to the number the kidnappers had used asking for ransom, demanding the safe release of the child, or else facing the consequences. Not only did the kidnappers never receive the message as the phone was switched off, but according to security experts, this could have negative consequences, such as the killing of the kidnapped person.

After the police tracked down Ajay and Gopal, according to credible witnesses and their neighbors, police arrested them from their rented room, beat them and asked about the kidnapped boy. The police found Nishan’s body on Monday afternoon, buried four feet deep at a house construction site in Madhyapur Thimi of Bhaktapur. The police then took the two men to the Doleshwor forest and shot them.

In their report, the police stated that after receiving information that the kidnappers were hiding in a nearby forest, they went to the forest. There, the kidnappers pointed a gun at them, and they shot the kidnappers in self-defense. Facts and photos belie this, as witnesses and neighbors saw the police arrest Ajay and Gopal from their room, before they were shot dead in the nearby Doleshwor forest.

At the time of their arrest, Ajay and Gopal were not wearing any slippers, but after the alleged encounter with the police, they were found wearing slippers, as well as with a gun perfectly gripped in their hand. This clearly indicates a staged encounter. The police fired 15 rounds, but there was no evidence of the kidnappers shooting at them. The police intent seems to be to kill the kidnappers, rather than arrest them.

Family members of Ajay and Gopal filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nepal on August 8, stating that the two men were shot extrajudicially after being arrested alive from their rented room. The NHRC has formed a five-member committee to look into the incident of fake encounter. The NHRC team expects to complete the probe within a week, and will recommend legal action if the police are found guilty. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also stated the government will investigate the incident.

This is third case of ‘police encounter’ in the Kathmandu Valley in recent years. Notorious gangster Kumar Shrestha ‘Ghainte’ was killed in August 2015, and another gangster Dinesh Adhikari ‘Chari’ was shot dead in August 2014 by the police. Criminals should be arrested and prosecuted, not shot extrajudicially. In any democratic society where rule of law is in practice, the security agencies including the police must follow standard practice, and must respect the law of the land. The police should have arrested the kidnappers and followed the judicial trial process. Furthermore, in any encounter, the police are not allowed to shoot above the knees. They must follow the internationally mandated procedure of shooting. Killing anyone in a staged encounter after arresting them is not acceptable. After the NHRC and the Ministry of Home Affairs come up with their reports, the government must ensure stringent punishments to the police officers involved, in order to deter other police officers from practicing fake encounter killings.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-050-2018
Countries : Nepal,
Issues : Administration of justice, Extrajudicial killings, Fabrication of charges, Inhuman & degrading treatment,