Court orders Raut’s release

Updated - May 23, 2016 04:08 pm IST

Published - October 14, 2014 03:59 pm IST - Kathmandu

The Special Court on Tuesday ordered the release of Madhesi activist Chandra Kant Raut who has been detention since September 14.

However, he was sent to prison in Kathmandu after he failed to furnish the bail amount sought by the Special Court for his release, according to a court official.

The Special Court which is hearing the sedition case slapped against Mr. Raut had asked him to pay NRs 50,000 (approximately INR 32,000) towards his bail amount, locals media quoted the Court’s Registrar Natibabu Lamichhane as saying.

The government has charged Mr. Raut with sedition, which forbids “attempts to cause any disorder with an intention to jeopardise sovereignty, integrity or national unity of Nepal”. If convicted Mr. Raut could face 10 years in prison. The Madhesi activist was arrested in Morang district on September 14. Initially, the police had booked him under the Public Offence Act.

He is the coordinator of Alliance for Independent Madheshi which has called for creation of a sovereign and independent Madhes in the Tarai region of Nepal.

Mr. Raut is a former employee with Raytheon, a contractor with the US Department of Defence. He returned to Nepal in 2011 and since then has been campaigning for independent Madhes. Until his arrest, not many people in the country knew abut him or his activities.

HRW calls for Raut’s release

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday called on the Nepal government to immediately withdraw sedition charges and unconditionally release Mr. Raut.

Issuing a statement, the New York based rights body said Mr. Raut was arrested “for his expression of peaceful political opinions” and suggested that the government should amend its practices to comply with international and domestic standards to protect freedom of expression.

“Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of a good democracy,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “But the government is going after an activist expressing concerns about marginalized communities from the Tarai.”

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