Arbitrary arrests and detention and excessive use of force by police during recent political rallies in Terai
Information Compiled by: Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRD Alliance)
Date: 6 January 2015
THRD Alliance is concerned about arbitrary arrests and detention and excessive use of force by the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force in the context of public rallies organised by the Alliance for Independent Madhes (AIM) over the last four months at which there have been no calls for violence.
THRD Alliance calls on the Home Minister to direct the police and district administrations to allow peaceful assemblies by AIM and release all those arrested to date, unless there is clear evidence that they have used violence. THRD Alliance maintains that the cases against them violate the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression as guaranteed in international human rights treaties to which Nepal is a party. The AIM assemblies should be permitted, as there is no evidence of any incitement to violence by the organisers.
THRD Alliance also calls on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to monitor future assemblies and to make public its findings and opinion on the cases against AIM members.
These assemblies have attracted up to 3,000 people and participants often carry the AIM’s flag with images of Gandhi, Buddha and Mandela and chant the slogan of Madhes swaraj jindawaad (We want Madhes autonomy). No participants have been found carrying any kind of weapons in the assemblies. Though AIM chief, Dr C K Raut, calls for independence for the Madhes during his speeches at these assemblies, he does not call for the use of violence to achieve this aim.
Dr C K Raut and his supporters have often expressed dismay that their treatment has received little or no interest from human rights NGOs based in Kathmandu and also that the media have tended to give the incorrect impression that the assemblies have all been banned and have repeatedly turned violent.
THRD Alliance, which has observed six of these rallies in Kathmandu, Bara, Mahottari, Kapilvastu, Janakpur and Morang district, has found no active participation of minors.
Despite repeated requests from THRD Alliance, the NHRC has only been present at two assemblies (Jaleshwar in Janakpur district and Biratnagar in Morang district) and and has failed to report on its findings in respect of the policing of the assemblies or indeed the arrest and detention of Dr C K Raut and his supporters.
Arbitrary arrest and detention
The first police intervention at an AIM rally was on 13 August 2014 at Rangeli town, Morang. Police arrested AIM chief Dr CK Raut when he was returning from the mass meeting, which he had addressed as the chief guest. He was arrested with one of his supporters Satya Narayan Mandal. Dr. Raut was subsequently arrested with twenty-six of his supporters in Kathmandu on 26 November 2014. The third arrest of Raut was on 28 December 2014; he was picked up from Pipra, a village in Mahottari on his way to address a political assembly at Jaleshwar, the district headquarters. He was released later the same day at 7.45 pm. He was arrested again on 29 December when he went to address another mass meeting in Jaleshwar. After he was arrested his supporters started protesting in front of the District Police Office. Police used baton charges to disperse the crowd. The police took Dr Raut to his home village in Saptari district at 7:45 pm that same day.
More than a dozen supporters of CK Raut were arrested at the Jaleshwar assembly on 28 December 2014. As it was not possible to organise the assembly due to police intervention, they tried again on 29 December in Jaleshwar and got arrested again. Eleven were arrested during the Biratnagar assembly. The detainees are listed below.
The supporters detained on 29 December 2014 at Jaleshwar Assembly were all released the same evening. Among the 11 detainees held at the District Police Office, Morang since 3 January, eight have been released but Parmeshwar Murmur, Rambilash Mehta and Hareram Mandal are still detained. They have been charged under the Public Offences Act (POA). A THRD Alliance observer witnessed the arrest of Parmeshwar Murmur, who was taking photographs at the time. He is now charged with attacking the police under the POA.
Two other AIM supporters, Irfan Ahamad Sekh (28) and Abdul Khan (29), were arrested in Nepalgunj on 31 December 2014 and are also held under the POA.
The use of the POA by the authorities is a clear sign of the political nature of the authorities’ actions. The POA allows people to be held in detention for up to 25 days on the authority of Chief District Officers (CDOs). Those charged under the POA are also tried by CDOs. In other words, using the POA allows the authorities to avoid judicial scrutiny of the cases brought against AIM members and supporters. (Having functions as a member of the executive and judiciary places CDOs in an untenable position, a fact recognised by the Supreme Court in September 2011 when it ordered the government to review all laws providing CDOs such quasi-judicial powers.)
Excessive use of force during demonstrations
According to THRD Alliance information, AIM obtained permission from the district administration to hold assemblies in both Bara and Mahottari.  In Morang, the police refused permission. According to international standards, it is good practice for organisers to notify the authorities of planned demonstrations. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association (the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association) recommends that the “exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly should not be subject to prior authorization by the authorities, but at the most to a prior notification procedure, which should not be burdensome”.
On 3 January, police controlled the four entrances to the college sports’ ground. When Dr Raut arrived with his supporters and tried to enter to attend the AIM assembly, police used force and in the melee, his right leg was broken. While he was detained at Nimuwa area police office, Biratnagar, police refused to take him for a medical check-up for the whole night even though Dr Raut kept telling them he was in severe pain. The next day, when he was released, police did not allowed to get treatment in Biratnagar but instead drove him to Itahari. He went to Dharan hospital, where he finally received treatment. He is now taking bed rest as he can’t walk. The doctor has told him to come after 10 days for a check-up.
Police personnel from both Nepal Police (NP) and Armed Police Force (APF) have been deployed around the programme venues in all districts. In most of the assemblies police were in uniform but on 26 November 2014, a large number of plain clothed police were present. THRD Alliance’s observers found that the police had had a plan/policy of interrupting the meetings. In general at these mass meetings, 300 to 400 police were deployed around the programme venue. A few police carried sticks and others used firearms.
When stopped by the police, the participants resisted whenever the police resorted to baton charges.  On occasion, participants were observed to be aggressive towards police when they were prevented from taking part in the assemblies. THRD observed that the police used excessive force in Kathmandu, Jaleshwar and Biratnagar. THRDA found that at first the participants or the demonstrators were not allowed to join the assembly and when they did, the security personnel provoked and pushed them physically without warning. At the assembly held in Biratnagar on 3 January, three to four rounds of tear gas were fired. Sometimes ordinary individuals with nothing to do with the assembly were abused by the police.
Annex 1: People injured due to police force at Biratnagar assembly on 3 January 2015
1.      Name: Pramod Mehta
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Profession/Occupation: Technician in a Mobile Shop
Family Status: Parents are farmer
Nationality: Nepali
Religion: Hindu
Ethnicity: Kushwaha
Name: Rajaram Mehata
Age: 22
Gender: Male
Profession/Occupation: Teacher
Family Status: Poor
Nationality: Nepali
Religion: Hindu
Ethnicity: Kushwaha
Name: Rohit Yadav
Age: 18
Gender: Male
Profession/Occupation: student ( recently in class 12)
Family Status: General
Nationality: Nepali
Religion: Hindu
Ethnicity: Yadav
Name: Rajesh Sah
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Profession/Occupation: owner of a dairy
Family Status: Poor
Nationality: Nepali
Religion: Hindu
Ethnicity: Other Back Ward Caste (OBC)
Annex 2: Detainees arrested from Jaleshwar Assembly on 29 December 2014 and subsequently released at 7:45 pm
1. Dr CK Raut
2. Ranjit Raj Madhesi
3. Chandan Singh
4. Suresh Pandey
5. Kailash Mahato
6.  Mahesh Thakur
7. Rampukar Mandal
8. Davendra Chaudhary
9. Bibek Karna
10. Lokendra Lal Karna
11. Nagendra Madal
12. Surendra Madhesi
13. Manoj Yadav
Annex 3: Detainees arrested from Biratnagar assembly
1.       Prameshwar Murmur (charged under POA)
2.       Saroj Sharma (released)
3.       Shriram Chaudhary (released)
4.       Jagdish Adhikari (released)
5.       Anjay Mishra (released)
6.       Ramnarayan Sah (released)
7.       Hareram Mandal (charged under POA)
8.       Bidyanand Pandit (released)
9.       Rambilash Mehta (charged under POA)
10.   Birendra Kumar Yadav (released)

11.   Asha Devi Pal (f) (released)