HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Unidentified gunmen today shot dead Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam nearby the UN Park in Lalitpur.
Justice Bam was being driven to his office from Banglamukhi Temple when two gunmen on motorcycle opened fire on him and his bodyguard and a companion. His body guard ASI Mahesh Giri and his friend Ram Giri, father of noted television artiste Dipak Raj Giri, were injured in the shooting.
According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen had initially opened fire on Justice Bam thrice. The assailants shot him again several times when he got off the car and tried to run away shouting for help.
The motorcycle-borne shooters had intercepted Bam’s car near Shankhamul and shot him indiscriminately at around 11:05am. The driver, however, managed to escape unhurt.
Around five minutes after the shooting, locals gathered at the incident site and took all the injured to Norvic Hospital. Bam was pronounced dead at 1:30pm. “He had received multiple shots. Bullets had ripped through his lungs; he died of profuse bleeding,” said Dr Bharat Rawat of the hospital. ASI Mahesh and Ram are undergoing treatment at the hospital. Bullets have been removed from their bodies, but they are not out of danger yet, said the hospital. Justice Bam had received seven bullets on his chin, throat, chest, armpit and fingers.
Bam, who was appointed SC justice four years ago, was suspended from hearing cases after the Judicial Council recommended impeachment against him for giving lenient sentences to three abduction accused. He was due to retire in a year.
“Circumstantial evidences show it was a premeditated attack. The gunmen had shot ASI Mahesh before turning a 7.65 caliber pistol at Bam and his friend Ram,” an official at the crime scene informed. Police later said an unclaimed motorcycle suspected to have been used in the shooting was recovered from Subidhanagar. Upon verification, the motorcycle was found to have fake registration number plate.
According to investigators, a few suspects have been rounded up from different places of the Kathmandu Valley. Bam’s driver Lama also has been taken into custody for interrogation. The assailants were said to have rushed towards Lalitpur area after the incident. The motive behind the murder was yet to be established.
Leaflets printed in the name of hitherto unheard of group called ‘Nepalbad NJSSR Party’ were found in the incident site. In the pamphlets that bear the name of certain Amar Nepal, the group has threatened to selectively ‘finish off corrupt judges, government employees, political leaders, NGOs/ INGOs, and others’.
Today’s shooting has once against shattered police claim into pieces that the Valley was under high security cover. Police, especially in the run-up to May 27, the day the Constituent Assembly was dissolved, had claimed to have deployed more than 5,000 security forces in the Valley. Today’s incident site was about 60 metres away from Shankhamul bridge where a Lalitpur Police’s Control Room Vehicle was stationed.
The broad daylight murder of a sitting justice follows the killing of Muslim leader Faizan Ahmed in Ghantaghar on September 26 last year.
Probe panel formed
KATHMANDU: Inspector General of Nepal Police Rabindra Pratap Shah on Thursday formed a high-level probe committee led by Metropolitan Police Commissioner AIG Kuber Singh Rana. The panel includes CIB in-charge DIG Upendra Kant Aryal and SSPs Devendra Subedi, Subodh Ghimire and Rajendra Man Shrestha.
Security upped for CJ, judges
KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Thursday directed security agencies to make special arrangements for the security of chief justice and justices. He termed Thursday’s incident an act ‘an attack on the state’. He pledged to nab the guilty and take stringent action against them. The prime minister also appealed to all not to panic. “This is an attack on the nation and independent judiciary,” said Home Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar.