‘PM OLI, PREZ BHANDARI ARE SILENT. WHO ELSE WILL SOLVE DASDHUNGA MURDER CASE?’
Rishi Kattel, Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal, has claimed Madan Bhandari was murdered. Bhandari’s accident was not just an accident but was pre-planned murder.
The then General Secretary of CPN-UML Madan Bhandari and organizational department chief of the same party, Jibraj Ashrit were killed in a mysterious jeep accident in Dasdhunga, Chitwan the in the evening of May 16, 1993— the dubbed unsolved murder still remains unsolved after 25 years.
Bhandari and Ashrit were en route to Chitwan from Pokhara to attend a meeting when the jeep plunged into the Trishuli river. Driver Amar Lama, according to his statement, survived after he managed to escape from the window sustaining minor injuries. He was reportedly killed by Maoist rebels ten years later in Kirtipur.
Kattel, who had traveled with late leader Bhandari from Pokhara to Anbu Khaireni in the same jeep, said he is disappointed with Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and President Bidya Devi Bhandari, widow of Madan Bhandari, for taking zero interest in the unsolved Dasdhunga murder.
Talking to Rishi Dhamala in a popular television talk show ‘Janata Janna Chahanchan’, Kattel remembers, “I was with Madan Bhandari, Jibraj Ashrit and driver Amar Lama. I traveled with them from Pokhara to Khaireni. I was in Gorkha when I learned about the accident.”
“It was already dark and no local vehicles were available. So I went to the accident site the next morning.”
“When I look back at the incidents, it was not a natural jeep accident. I can say leaders Bhandari and Ashrit were murdered.”
“Now, his wife (widow) Bidya Devi is the president of Nepal. Oli, who used to claim himself as the closest person to Madan Bhandari is the prime minister of Nepal.”
“The Dasdhunga incident is still a topic of interest for people. But, President Bidya Devi and Prime Minister Oli show no interest in the unsolved murder,” he added.
When asked who could have murdered Bhandari and Ashrit, Kattel said, “I cannot point out names. The Trilok Pratap Rana Commission took a statement with me about the Dasdhunga incident. In the statement, I have clearly stated it was a murder case.”
“Driver Lama was very close to Bhandari. Bhandari trusted him. So, we did not pay attention to the activities of Lama when we were in Pokhara and while traveling. Neither we thought about the reason behind why the driver looked serious before the incident occurred,” he remembers.
“Lama himself had made Bhandari fasten the seat belt when he said it was not necessary because the trip was not long.”
“The door where Bhandari had seated was locked. The windshield was not broken. Ashrit, who was in the back seat when I left, was in the same position but lying lifeless when the crane pulled up the jeep from the river.”
“But, there was no sign of Madan Bhandari. After searching for three days, his dead body was found lying in the river bank in Gajapur, some 32 kilometers from the accident site.”
“I myself had reached there to identify his body. The body was said to have swept away by the river. But, surprisingly, there was not even a single scratch on his body except a small bruise on his face.”
“The body was obviously missing the pant Bhandari was wearing, which he had tightened using a belt. But his underwear was still on the body.”
“Also, there was no chance Bhandari could have swept away by the river.”
“All the facts lead to a conclusion that it was a murder.”
When asked what could have lead to Bhandari’s murder, he said there could be one or two reasons behind this.
“Driver Lama had disappeared for a long time so that we had to wait for him for a while in Pokhara, Kattel further explained.
“When he arrived he was very serious. He did not speak a word except requesting Bhandari to fasten his seatbelt.”
“While traveling we discussed People’s Multiparty Democracy (Janata Ko Bahudaliya Janabad), a popular principle propounded by Bhandari.”
“I was not in agreement with Bhandari because I thought this principle of was not new and a threat to the communist movement. I had told Bhandari that the thought of multiparty democracy would lead Nepal’s communist movement to nowhere.”
“Bhandari in response had told me not to panic and jump into any conclusion,” he said.
“We will continue the discussion on this. Unless we bring people to the streets, no revolution is possible. If we fail to bring people to streets through this principle, then…. we are the drivers, we will change the gear and turn back,” said Kattel quoting Bhandari.
“We continued discussing this topic until we reached Damauli,” he added.
“In fact, there was no plan take the vehicle to Pokhara. The jeep was in a workshop because Bhandari and other leaders were in a month-long plan to visit eastern Nepal taking the message of recently concluded General Convention,” he revealed.
“They were planning to inaugurate district convention in Pokhara on May 16, then visit Chitwan next day to address a function organized by women. Then, after visiting eastern districts, they were planning to reach Tanahu to inaugurate another district convention at the end of Jestha month before returning to the capital.”
“But Wachaspati Devkota, who also traveled with them, requested Ashrit to take the jeep to Pokhara saying there was no vehicle. Bhandari had flown to Pokhara telling the driver to drive the jeep to Chitwan.”
Then who planned the murder of Bhandari? asked Rishi Dhamala.
According to Kattel, some foreign elements, as well as internal powers including Palace (monarch), were involved in Bhandari’s murder.
“I cannot say who murdered him. An investigation led by K P Oli said it was not an accident but an unsolved murder. Oli concealed the report and has not unveiled it yet. The Trilok Pratap Commission concluded the incident as an accident.”
“Murder of such high profile personalities is not done with a small planning. They could be from the palace, or the party or neighbor or anywhere.”
“Madan Bhandari was a tall figure. He was patriotic, charismatic and the most popular leader of Nepal. Besides, Nepal is a country where a true patriot has a hard time surviving,” he furthered.
“The conspirators of Bhandari’s should have thought Madan Bhandari’s patriotic stance would block them to molest the country’s resources.”
“Another reason could be his principle of people’s multiparty democracy. He could have reconsidered this thought or be defeated. But some communist leaders should have thought that finishing Bhandari would allow them to continue with the principle.”
“Everybody has realized now how shameful the communist movement is, which evolved from the same principle propounded by Bhandari.”
When asked whether K P Oli led government could solve the murder, he said, “They can. But they won’t.”
“If Madan Bhandari had not died, Bidya Devi would never be the president.”
“She does not have the qualification to be a candidate for the post of president of Nepal. She became the president because she is the widow of late Madan Bhandari.”
“After Madan Bhandari died, Oli rose to power. He is now the prime minister of Nepal.”
“The President, after assuming the post, could have formed a probe committee. But there is mum on this.”
“Oli is silent. Bidya Bhandari is silent. Their followers are silent. Our interest in the mysterious murder can do nothing.”