On Monday, 24 August, eight policemen and a two-year-old child were reported killed in clashes between mainly Tharu protestors and the Nepal Police in Tikapur, Kailali District. The details are still under investigation, but reports suggest that the Nepal Police were attempting to enforce a prohibition by the Local Administration against demonstrations. To date, no independent investigation has been conducted, and access to the area by human rights defenders is limited due to continuing risks and security restrictions. There is a continuing lack of clarity about how the two-year-old child has killed as well as the precise sequence of events that led to the deaths on August 24th.
Continuing protests by Tharu constituents are focused on the delineation of provincial boundaries by national political leaders in Kathmandu. It is important to take into account earlier indications of escalating communal violence in relation to the national political process in order to uncover the roots of the violence on August 24th. The death of the policemen and child followed several days of communal conflict prompted by the decision of the political parties in Kathmandu on August 8th, 2015 to combine Kanchanpur and Kailali districts into a united Far West province, against the aspirations of many Tharu constituents who were frustrated by the political process, but celebrated by non-Tharu Pahadi constituents.
The two-year-old child who died was Tek Bahadur Saud, the son of a policeman. The five fatally wounded Nepal Police are SSP Laxman Neupane, Inspectors Balram Bista and Keshav Bohara, Constables Laxman Khadka and Lokendra Chandra. Also killed in the violence were APF Head Constables Rambihari Chaudhary and Lalit Saud. Police constable Janak Negi died on 27 August during hospital treatment. More than 40 members of the security forces were reported injured with wounds from spears and other weapons. Four protestors were reportedly admitted to Tikapur Hospital following the clashes on 24 August, including one with a bullet injury in his leg and another in the hip. An attendant at Dhangadhi Hospital said up to 100 non-Tharu activists entered the hospital and attacked Tharus visiting their family members who were injured in the incident. On August 25th, CDO Raj Kumar Shreshta imposed a curfew in Tikapur Municipality and five nearby VDCs. According to Government statements, the Nepal Army has also been mobilized to assist the Nepal Police in maintaining security.
THRD Alliance has received reliable reports, however, that non-Tharu groups have been defying the curfew, setting the fire and destroying 12 houses including Tharu shops; the Phoolbari FM radio station (as reported in the media); the home of CA member Janak Chaudhary; the home of Resham Chaudhari (Tikapur protest coordinator); Kamal Bakas industry (owned by Kamal Chaudhary); Niru Traders (owned by Niru Chaudhary); other business dwellings located along the route from the Tikapur Hospital to Manuwa Road. Local Tharu residents said that this destruction of property is being carried out by non-Tharu groups who were chanting “how can you sleep with our relatives dead?”. Tharu people in need of medical care fear approaching the Tikapur Hospital due to the pattern of anti-Tharu violence outside and inside the building.
On August 26th, Nepal Police arrested leaders of Forum Loktantrik Party in Tikapur, alleging their involvement in the killings on August 24th (Ram Prasad Chaudhary, Sundar Lal Chaudhary, Khadag Bahadur Chaudhary, Ram Janam Chaudhary, Ram Kumar Kathariya, Sundar Lal Kathariya, Dil Bahadur Chaudhary, Raj Kumar Kathariya, Hari Narayan Chaudhary, and Prem Bahadur Chaudhary and Jhapat Narayan Kusmi). Some have since been released. It is not confirmed where the others are being held. One detainee, Jhapat Narayan Kusmi- 32, local resident of Muddhi-6, Kailali, has been reported to be held incommunicado. Risk of Further Violence ----------------------------
The THRD Alliance has reliable reports that non-Tharu political groups, particularly the ‘Akhanda’ (supporters of undivided Far-West) group, continue to carry out acts of revenge against anyone thought to be a Tharu. This is affecting Manuwa VDC and other areas. There is no indication that these revenge attacks will subside and a risk that they will escalate without a concerted intervention to protect life and to open an effective dialogue process. According to THRD Alliance’s Bardiya-based monitors, a large number of Tharus fled to Bardiya as internally displaced people. Others have fled to India. Tikapur and nearby villages are almost empty due to fear generated by the violence and the mobilization of the army. Recommendations ----------------
Based on its continuous monitoring of recent protest and violence in Kailali District, the THRD Alliance urges immediate action by the Government and support by the international community to avert a further escalation of the violence. Law Enforcement Officials: We urge all law enforcement officials to comply with Nepal’s obligations under international law to use force only when necessary for legitimate aims and, even where force is warranted, to use only the minimum force necessary in order to ensure public safety and protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Political parties and Government: We urge the Nepali government and political parties to open up dialogue on two fronts: at the local level in Kailali in order to mitigate the immediate risk of further violence and, second, at the national level in the Constitution-drafting process in order to address the roots of the violence. The THRD Alliance concludes from its own preliminary investigations that there is a high risk of further violence if the inclusive dialogue is not facilitated and supported.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and civil society organizations can facilitate and monitor this dialogue. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): We urge the NHRC to actively promote and facilitate dialogue and to undertake an independent and effective investigation into recent violence resulting in death and injury, which can form the basis for avoiding further violence and providing remedies.
The NHRC should also ensure continued monitoring and reporting on political protest and the State’s response. International Community: We urge the international community in Nepal to support local and national dialogue aimed at reducing the risk of violence and leading to an inclusive constitutional process. We also ask the international community to call on the Government to respect international norms regarding the use of force.