Nepal Army in fresh row

Nepal Army in fresh rowKathmandu, Dec 28 - Nepal's controversial army, which tarnished its image by siding with deposed king Gyanendra during his bloodless coup four years ago, finds itself in a fresh row with three torture victims filing a case against a general, accusing him of gross human rights violations.

Krishna KC, Himal Sharma and Bina Magar, who were illegally arrested by the army six years ago and severely tortured in a secret detention camp run in the capital, are challenging the coalition government's decision last week to promote Major General Toran Jung Bahadur Singh to lieutenant-general and second in command despite the battalion commanded by Singh having been involved in running the torture camp.

The three members of the Maoist party, which was banned in Nepal during the 10-year war fought by it to unseat the king, filed a petition in the Supreme Court Sunday, saying under Singh's command they were severely beaten, given electric shocks, had pins driven under their nails, starved and kept continuously blindfolded and manacled.

They also say they met nearly 80 other Maoists in the camp, many of whom have disappeared without trace since then.

An investigation by the UN said 49 people disappeared from the infamous camp and are believed to have been killed and buried in secret mass graves.

However, despite objections by the UN, Amnesty International and Nepal's National Human Rights Commission, the new government last week decided to promote Singh, a gesture that is feared to foster greater impunity in the army that was responsible for the lion's share of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations during the insurgency.

However, it is unlikely that the victims will receive justice.

Devi Sunuwar, the mother of a 15-year-old schoolgirl Maina, who was tortured to death by the army, has not been able to obtain punishment for the major who was in charge of the troops even after a court ordered the government to arrest the accused army personnel.

Though the UN this month expelled the major from its peacekeeping forces - a first in Nepal's 50-year-old association with the world body - the government has failed to arrest Major Niranjan Basnet. The army said it would run its own enquiry.

A lawyer, Jitman Basnet, who too was held at the same torture camp for nearly 250 days despite not being affiliated to any political party, also filed a case against the then chief of Nepal's army, Gen Pyar Jung Thapa, almost three years ago.

The suit is gathering dust while Thapa retired with full honours and benefits. (IANS)