Attorney general accused of punishing his staffer for resisting pressure to let a rape suspect escape

Kathmandu, June 17

Government attorney Sangita Thokar has been transferred from the Lalitpur District Government Attorney’s Office by the Office of the Attorney General for resisting pressure to “weaken a rape case”.

A girl had accused Sushil Chatuat, the son of State Minister Umesh Shrestha’s business partner Tirtha Raj Chataut, of raping her at his home in Imadol of Lalitpur repeatedly. The girl was brought to Kathmandu from Bajhang to work as a domestic worker. In return, her education would be taken care of.

After repeatedly being raped, the girl one day cried in school telling them she did not want to go home. Following this, the school contacted Children and Women in Social Service & Human Rights (CWISH). The NGO, after talking to the girl, went to the police to file a report against Chataut. But, the police office in Satdobato refused to take the complaint.

Why? Because Chatuat’s father Tirtha Raj knows all major politicians in the country. As police knew this, they did not want to file the complaint.

CWISH then went to Lalitpur Police Range, which did register the case albeit hesitantly.

“They had filed a very weak report. It was like they didn’t want to,” said a source from the government attorney’s office.

The file first reached the office of an assistant attorney, Sushila Gyawali, who was asked to fight on behalf of Chataut by the Office of the Attorney General. A source says officials from the office repeatedly called to ask about the case.

Gyawali had to prosecute Chatuat but due to incessant pressure from the Office of the Attorney General, she decided to hand over the case to Uren Lama and left the valley saying she had become an election official for the local election.

The Office of the Attorney General was constantly keeping tabs on the case. Bidu Dhami and Hari Prasad Joshi from the office told Lalita Shrestha, acting office chief, not to question a lot during testimonies and asked her to look after Chataut.

But, Chataut was remanded in custody as government attorneys demanded justice for the girl.

The Chatuat family also played a role in weakening the case as, during the day of the testimony, the family brought the girl in their car. Usually, it is the police who bring them.

Consequently, the girl changed her testimony.

A District Government Attorney’s Office source said the Chataut family wanted to remove the girl’s first statement that was recorded. They were unsuccessful.

“The Office of the Attorney General was very angry that we used the girl’s first statement against Chataut,” says a source from the district office. After that, a letter came to Thokar transferring her from the office.

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