Caste-based violence: Rukum District Court starts recording statements on Soti incident

The Rukum West District Court has started to record the statements of the witnesses of the incident in which six people were killed in Soti of Rukum West in May last year.

On May 23, Nabaraj BK and five of his friends from Bheri Municipality in Jajarkot district were killed by Soti locals in an incident of caste-based violence when 21-year-old BK reached the village to elope with his 17-year-old girlfriend.

Dead bodies of Ganesh Budha Magar, Tikaram Nepali, Lokendra Sunar, Govinda Shahi and Sanju BK whose bodies were recovered from the Bheri River the following days.

A nine-member parliamentary committee was formed on June 8 under the leadership of CPN-Maoist Center MP Devendra Poudel (current Education Minister) to investigate the incident. The committee had concluded that the Soti incident was premeditated.

According to the investigation report, the mass murder was premeditated and conspired by the girl’s family as they were not happy with their daughter being in a relationship with a so-called “lower caste” boy.

The probe committee also concluded that it found utter lapses on the part of the local administration as well as the local government in investigating the incident.

As per the report, the local police had taken the injured under control instead of the attackers and has suggested that the police’s entire investigation process was flawed.

District Court Judge Krit Bahadur Bohara said that witnesses from both plaintiff and defendants’ sides were produced at the court on Tuesday and the hearing for bail as well as recording of statements has started from Wednesday. According to Bohara, 39 people from the plaintiff’s side and 23 people from the defendant’s side have been produced at the court.

The accused are facing charges of murder and practicing caste-based discrimination. Twenty three accused in the incident are held in judicial custody awaiting trial, while 11 people have been released.