PM seeks explanation from Home Ministry over stopping of Lenin Bista at airport

Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has sought explanation from the Home Ministry for stopping a former Maoist combatant flying to take part in a program in Bangkok, Thailand. PM Oli has instructed the Home Ministry to furnish a written response about the incident within 24 hours. Speaking with editors at his official residence in Baluwatar Monday morning, he stated that he will be careful about violation of the rights for freedom of movement. “I have asked why he was sent back,” Oli told the editors. The Immigration Department under the instruction of Home Ministry on Friday had stopped a former Maoist combatant flying to take part in a program in Bangkok, Thailand. Lenin Bista of Kavre was scheduled to board a Nepal Airlines flight to Bangkok at 9:50 Friday morning but the department stopped him from boarding the flight. The immigration officials stopped Bista after putting the stamp of ‘departed’ on his passport. “They called me back as I walked around five steps after getting my passport stamped. They said they have to study some of my documents and made me wait for an hour before putting the stamp of ‘cancelled’ above departed,” Bista told Setopati. Bista said the immigration officials cited ‘orders from above’ when he asked about the reason for stopping him. The department said Bista has been included in the temporary blacklist Friday itself. “The blacklist should not be temporary. They did not mention my background as well,” he added. He sought written response after not being satisfied with the verbal one. “We have not given permission for departure as the Nepal government has not given recommendation or approval for the program,” the department’s letter reads. There is no legal provision requiring an ordinary Nepali citizen to take government’s permission to go abroad for a visit or to attend any program. “I am a social campaigner. I don’t have any kind of criminal background. I don’t need permission to take part in a program organized by any organization,” he argued. “The government has unjustly stopped me from going abroad. This is violation of my human rights.” Bista had received invitation for ‘Youth in Conflict: Healing and Peace-building through Social Engagement’ program on July 27. Bista and one Namrita Subedi, a member of the family displaced by the Maoists during the conflict period, were set to leave for the program after the organizers Asian Resource Foundation sent invitation along with visa and accommodation arrangements. Director General of the Immigration Department Ishwor Prasad Paudel claimed ignorance about the incident. “There are authorized officials led by a joint secretary to decide who should be allowed to leave or prohibited at the airport itself. I have not been informed about it yet,” Paudel claimed. Namrita Subedi, who was accompanying Bista, was allowed to leave for the same program though. Bista is a former Maoist combatant who was conscripted by the Maoists in 2002 when he was 11 and studying in the fifth grade. He was in the camp for Maoist combatants once the peace process started and was sent back from the camp by UNMIN during the verification process of combatants for being underage. He has been campaigning against the use of children in war after that. He has been lobbying for a law forbidding use of children in wars and demanding that the child combatants used by the Maoists must be managed by the state. He accused the Home Ministry of stopping him in a well-planned manner to stop him from raising such voices in the international forum. He claimed that Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa’s advisor Surya Subedi had asked him to send the issues he would be addressing in Bangkok. “They demanded the presentation I had prepared for Bangkok. I had sent the same through a friend,” he stated. He claimed that Subedi had warned that he can be stopped anywhere. “He had sent a message saying he can stop me even at the airport if he so wished,” Bista added. He said he will go to the National Human Rights Commission and Supreme Court with the document given by the Immigration Department while stopping him. “The Maoists earlier taught us that we should raise arms for our rights. They now hassle us when we raise our voice,” he rued. “Any Nepali citizen must be free to visit any part of the country or another country. The government cannot stop me even if I were going to talk about the war associated with the Maoists.”Published Date: Monday, Bhadra 11, 2075, 12:05:37

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