After Bal Krishna Dhungel was granted the Presidential Pardon, Pratik Rimal from myrepublica.com spoke to Sabitri Shrestha, sister of Ujjan Shrestha to understand how the decision has affected the family. Excerpts.
How do you view the decision of a convicted murder Bal Krishna Dhungel receiving presidential pardon during Nepal’s 11th Republic day?
We are shocked. What the government did was extremely wrong, especially on our Republic day celebration. The kings used to grant pardon to criminals in special occasions in the past. The new government has adhered to the same style. For me and my family, this is a black day.
The government never bothered to understand the families of victims. Instead, the government is more concerned with the plight of criminals who were convicted for their crimes.
How does this decision affect you and your family?
We are now more concerned about our safety after the decision. We were scared when Bal Krishna Dhungel walked free the first time around and now it’s even more fearful. Six months ago, we were threatened by cadres of Maoists.
There is so much pain and less solution because leaving my family isn’t one at all. Now, we are just waiting and watching how events unfold.
Did you think Dhungel would walk free after the Left Alliance came into power?
I had strong hunch that he would walk free, and I had talked about it with my family members. But then, I had faith in Ishwor Pokhrel and his words. A day before the general elections, I had met Ishwor Pokhrel, who is more like a family member to us, and asked the same. However, he had said that even if the whole left alliance would conspire to release Dhungel, he would fight single handedly to prevent Bal Krishna from walking walk free. “Don’t worry sister. If needed, I will fight alone,” is what the Minister of Defence had told me during our meeting.
However, when the time came, he didn’t make any efforts to avoid today’s incident. We had pinned our hopes on him, but we are in a different course of events now.
Do you plan to go to the International Criminal Court and fight for justice?
I have plans but I am doubtful of justice. How can we expect justice in a foreign land when my own country snatched justice? I have seen that Nepal hasn’t implemented any verdicts that were given by the ICC, including one on Maina Sunwar’s case.
The government released Dhungel is more criminal than Dhungel himself. The government could have backed the judiciary’s decision rather than stepping in a clause of ‘good conduct’ to free Dhungel before he completed his prison time. Even if Dhungel was to be released after eight years, he still has 15 days more to complete his eight years.