On Monday, a report by HamraKura.com, an online news portal based in Kathmandu broke a story which took the nation by a storm – the report alleged that then House Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara (currently resigned) had raped a woman in her apartment on Sunday night. The news coverage, supported by photographic evidence shared the victim’s harrowing ordeal as told by her.
According to the report, an intoxicated Mahara showed himself to her apartment with a drink and some snacks in his hand. Making himself comfortable, he asked the victim to share a few drinks with him – halfway down the bottle, he showed his ‘demonic’ nature, wherein he forced himself on the victim.
Overnight, the story went viral. Senior leaders including PM Oli and NCP co-chair Prachanda met Tuesday morning and asked him to resign – after the police informed them that Speaker Mahara had in fact had visited the accuser’s apartment.
As the story developed, on the same day, Ms. Shahi (the accuser) retracted her statement – she said she was suffering from depression and did not realise what she was saying. She is also said to have rebutted the advances of several other media outlets – telling them to do something meaningful instead.
Her sudden u-turn has been the cause of several speculations – many legal counselors too opining that her retraction could have been coerced.
However, police have assured the public and the media fraternity that her retraction does not mean the case will be dropped. They will continue with their investigation and have sufficient leads – for example:
- Speaker Mahara’s car was parked outside her apartment between 07:06 p.m. to 08:25 p.m. on the day of the incident.
- Ms. Shahi had called police hotline 100 and an officer had attended the case.
Police however have a few associated challenges too:
- An FIR is not lodged.
- Ms. Shahi’s unwillingness to undergo a medical examination.
Meanwhile, the journalist who reported the story, Mr. Ajaya Babu Shiwakoti, founder/editor of HamraKura.com, and a respected figure in the media community has been heard saying ‘he is feeling threatened’. According to him, he was firstly asked to ‘kill the story’ by several party members, which he refused to do. Similarly, he also said he receives calls which are of a ‘threatening nature’ and that he heard ‘some people are thinking of ways to silence him’.
Shiwakoti also said that he has entrusted his security with the state.