Poster campaign renews stir seeking justice for Nirmala

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Marissa Taylor, Kathmandu

Dec 2, 2018-

On Saturday morning, protesters demanding justice for Nirmala Pant gathered at Maitighar Mandala amid an air of uncertainty and fear. This was because only a day prior, 12 protesters had been arrested while they were putting up posters that questioned the government’s delay in serving justice to Nirmala.

Following the arrest, protesters say that the police warned them not to hold any more protests citing that it was an order from “higher authorities”. Some campaigners say that they even received calls warning them not to stage any further protests. 

This action by police is one in a series of steps the government has recently taken in what seems like an attempt to suppress protests over the rape and murder of the 13-year-old in Kanchanpur in July.

The police, however, said that they arrested the 12 people to clear the area to make way for VVIP movement as the crowd refused to heed their orders. They state that the arrest had no relation whatsoever with Nirmala’s case.

Contrary to what the police say, Pritam Subedi, a campaigner for the #JusticeforNirmala movement and one of those arrested, said, “I got calls from the police not to organise the protest. And we were worried that the police would arrest us before we could even start. But, after all that, police didn’t take any action against us today.”

 

Subedi added that arrests and ‘warnings’ would not deter their efforts and that they would continue to protest until justice was served.

“We are all ready to get arrested again. If the government can turn a deaf ear to our voices, which is only demanding justice for a 13-year-old, why can’t we deny their unethical orders?” said Subedi.

Pictures and videos that show police officers tearing up posters in Maitighar are viral on social media, and the police’s actions have met with widespread criticism from the public. 

In an attempt to press the government, a new campaign has begun in which people are pasting stickers depicting Nirmala on their bikes, public vehicles and even jackets, and asking: “Kaha kaha ko poster chyatchhau? Ko ko lai samatchhau? [Wherever do you tear up the posters? Who all do you arrest?”

At the march, protesters held pamphlets that read: ‘We found the government, but not justice’ and ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied!” with #Impunity splashed at the top and a sketch of Nirmala at the centre. They were also chanting slogans saying ‘We want justice’, ‘Arrest the culprits’, ‘Take action against the officers tampering with evidence’, ‘Home Minister read the constitution’, ‘Two-third majority, rapists security’ and ‘Learned from the government, police also corrupted’ among many others.

After protesting at the Mandala, the group, of nearly two hundred protesters, marched towards New Baneshwor with more than double the number of police personnel enclosing them from all sides.

This form of authorised clampdown is being carried out not only in Kathmandu. A similar movement of putting up posters was organised in Pokhara on Saturday in which the police again tore up the pasted posters.

“All the posters we had pasted were torn by police officials. They seized around 250 posters from us as well,” Suresh Pahari, a campaigner in Pokhara, told the Post. “When we asked why they tore up the posters, their reply was ‘It will make the city dirty’. We wonder why the posters of advertisement are allowed.”

The government has also taken steps to repress news regarding Nirmala and ordered the state media to avoid news related to the issue.

“The government feels ashamed of its delay in providing justice for Nirmala,” Mohna Ansari, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, told the Post. “The government is trying its best to suppress the issue because it doesn’t want the international mass to find out. But the only way the government can keep the ongoing movement quiet is by arresting the perpetrator.”

Our government’s failure to deliver justice to a mourning family has already sparked attention at the international front. On November 29, Dubravka Šimonovic, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women, at a press conference organised in Lalitpur, said, “The ongoing case of Nirmala Pant is a test case for the government of Nepal. I have requested more information on the case and I would be following it up. How the government handles the Nirmala Pant rape and murder case will determine its true commitment towards respecting international human rights laws.”

Published: 02-12-2018 06:53

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