KATHMANDU, Aug 23: Radio journalist Harisaran Lamichhane has claimed that his brother Rabi Lamichhane has no involvement in the suicide of journalist Salikram Pudasaini. He is innocent and will get out of prison with honor soon, he added.
Television presenter Rabi Lamichhane has been accused of abetting Pudasaini to commit suicide, whose body was found hanging from a ceiling fan in a room at Kangaroo Hotel in Narayangadh on August 5.
Kathmandu Metropolitan Police, in the request of Chitwan District Police, arrested Rabi on August 15 from Kathmandu base News24 office based on a video clip recorded by his ex-colleague Pudasaini in his final moments, in which he held Lamichhane “chiefly responsible for his decision to commit suicide.”
Yuvraj Kandel and Asmita Karki who were also mentioned in the 13-minute long video clip were also arrested and taken to Chitwan.
“Police say Pudasaini recorded several videos in the period of two hours before taking his own life. But only a portion of the video was leaked.”
Rabi Lamichhane’s wife Nikita Paudel had reached Metropolitan Police Range Kathmandu on Wednesday for lodging a complaint against the editor of Jana Aastha Weekly Kishor Shrestha, the editor of online news portal Nepal Aaja Sanket Koirala and chief of District Police Office Chitwan SP Dan Bahadur Malla for tampering the electronic evidence of the video. However, the Range denied filing the complaint citing the case was under the purview of Chitwan Police.
The mobile phone which contained the video was recovered by police officials who had reached the hotel room where Pudasaini was found hanging and was sent to the digital forensic lab at the Crime Investigation Department.
“How did private media get access to the evidence (video clip) from the police? I briefly watched the interview of Kishor Shrestha in which he said he obtained the video from family sources? How did the family receive the video clip from the police?”
“I know Rabi and Kishor’s rivalry go years back. Both are competing against each other. Even though Pudasaini has categorically taken the names of Rabi and two others in the video, there is no concrete proof that Rabi used to torture him.”
“The video itself cannot be proof,” he added.
According to Harisaran, the police investigation is incomplete as the investigation process seems primarily focused on framing Rabi responsible for Pudasaini’s suicide.
Instead of widening the investigation, the investigation is centered on proving Rabi guilty. The investigation is incomplete and heading in the wrong direction,” he said.
“The investigation should not be limited to the video clip. They need to realize there are other factors as well. For example, why did Pudasaini go to Chitwan? Who called him? I have learned that Pudasaini had met some people when he was in Chitwan. Why don’t the police interrogate them?”
“Rabi and Pudasaini might have had rough moments. But these things alone could not have compelled him to the decision to end his own life. There might be many factors contributing to it such as family and society.”
“But I don’t believe Rabi will be proved guilty. I don’t believe Rabi has direct involvement in Pudsaini’s suicide. I am confident he is innocent and will be released from prison with honor,” Harisaran added.
Chitwan District Court on Sunday remanded Rabi Lamichhane, Karki and Kandel to extended of custody of five days to conduct further investigation into the death of the ex-colleague Pudasaini as the investigation remains inclusive.
Harisaran also denied reports that he politicized the Rabi’s case. Thousands of supporters of Rabi has been protesting in Bharatpur every day demanding his immediate release despite the district administration declaring the area restricted zone.
“Rabi is a prominent media figure. He advocated against injustice and corruption through his television program Sidha Kura Janta Sanga. The crowd there has not affected in the investigation but is a part that speaks Rabi is innocent.
“We did not gather them there. Neither have we politicized the case. The supporters of Rabi have arrived themselves.”
“The state should also understand the background and psychology of aggression of the crowd,” he added.