Nepal MPs protest peer’s arrest in double murder

January 18th, 2009 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 18 (IANS) Lawmakers of an ethnic party from the Terai plains of Nepal Sunday began protests in the interim parliament, saying that the arrest of a fellow legislator Saturday in a double-murder case smacked of political vendetta.The Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi), a fragmented Madhesi party from the Terai plains in southern Nepal, told the house it would start a protest movement if Babban Singh, the 40-year-old MP from the plains, was made a victim of political vendetta by the ruling alliance.

Babban Singh, who won the election last year from riots-hit Rautahat district despite being underground after police named him as being the mastermind of serial blasts in the capital that killed at least three women, was arrested from the border town of Birgunj Saturday.

Police Sunday presented him before the Parsa district court seeking 25 days’ custody to complete investigations.

According to them, two weeks ago they had arrested a hitman, Bibek, who had killed Birgunj trader Rajesh Kayal in December.

Bibek had reportedly revealed during interrogation that Babban Singh had ordered him to kill the trader.

Police said Singh was also involved in the earlier killing of another businessman, Jateshwor Shah.

However, the court said the lawmaker could be kept in custody for only 72 hours.

Soon after Singh’s arrest, public protests were reported from his constituency in Rautahat and Birgunj.

Taking up cudgels on his behalf, the Terai MPs told parliament that Singh’s arrest was ordered to silence him since he had been condemning the brutal murder of a woman journalist in the Terai.

Uma Singh, a 24-year-old radio and print journalist, was hacked to death at her home in Janakpur town in Dhanusha district earlier this month.

The killing sent shock waves through Nepal and a fact-finding team of journalists concluded that it was linked to the disappearance of her father and brother three years ago.

Uma Singh’s father Ranjit Singh and brother Sanjay were abducted by Maoists after a dispute over land and are believed to have been killed.

Uma Singh had been intent on getting justice and had filed a police complaint.

She was said to have been receiving threatening calls, asking her to withdraw the complaint.

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