Sanjeev Kumar Karna
Name: Sanjeev Kumar Karna
Date of Incident: October 8, 2003
Address: Janakpur Municipality-10, Dhanusha District
1. Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha, Senior Superintendent of Police, Regional Police Office, Janakpur;
2. Rewati Raj Kafle, Chief District Officer, Dhanusha District;
3. Kuber Singh Rana, District Police Chief, superintendent of police, Dhanusha District;
4. Major Anup Adhikari, Shree Number 9 Battalion of Army Barrack, Dhanusha District.
Summary: Sanjeev Kumar Karna was one among the 11 persons arrested on October 8, 2003. On that fateful day, they had gone to attend a picnic program organized by the students at a place called Kariyachauri VDC-4, and from picnic, they went to Kataiya Chowri Area of Dhanusha district where they ate some food, and they started taking bath in a nearby river. In the meantime, some 20-25 joint security forces comprising of RNA, Nepal Armed Police and Nepal Police (some were in plainclothes and some in uniform) arrived on one white colored pick-up van and three blue colored police vans. The security forces immediately arrested 11 persons including Sanjeev without providing them with any arrest letter. All of them were blindfolded, beaten up with sticks and rifle butts and then taken to the then Regional Police Office (Zonal Police Office at present) of Janakpur. Their whereabouts have been unknown since then.
Sanjeev Kumar Karna's family reported the case to various national and international human rights organizations and mechanisms but nothing proved fruitful. They visited several barracks but each and every barrack denied his arresting and detention. NHRC has sent message to the family in line with the response of the different security authorities with whom it corresponded that all of the arrested boys including Sanjeev were killed in the security operation in Janakpur. But, Sanjeev's father is yet not ready to believe it. He is still desperately searching for his son. Family members want to know the whereabouts of their son, if killed, where, when and by whom.
Details of the Incident and Development: Between 12:10 p.m. and 2 p.m. on October 8, 2003, security forces arrested 11 persons without arrest warrants, including Sanjeev, Durgesh, Jitendra, Shailendra, and Pramod, from the Kataiyachauri area of Janakpur Municipality-4. After the arrest, all were taken to the Regional Police Office in Janakpur, where they were reportedly interrogated by Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha in the presence of Rewati Raj Kafle, Kuber Singh Rana, and Major Anup Adhikari. Jay Kishor Lav, whose son was one of the 11 arrested, states he witnessed the young men being lined up in the compound of the regional police office in Dhanusha. The police denied the 11 persons had been arrested. On October 9, their families complained to the NHRC which initiated an investigation. On January 23, 2006, the NHRC received a letter from the Human Rights Cell of the NA, which stated that Sanjeev and his four friends had been killed in a police operation in Janakpur area on October 8, 2003. The letter did not state how they were killed and where the remains were or if the bodies had been disposed of. Following the correspondence from the NA, the NHRC wrote to the inspector general of police. In a response dated February 24, 2006, Nepal Police Headquarters stated that a police task force, coordinated by a deputy inspector general, was investigating the case. As of August 2008, the report of this investigation had not been made available to the NHRC.
Official Action: The police filed two FIRs on July 9, 2006. The arrest and “disappearances” of Sanjeev, Jitendra, Durgesh, and Shailendra were registered in a single FIR, and the FIR regarding Pramod Narayan’s “disappearance” was filed separately. The police have not carried out a serious investigation. Advocacy Forum made a follow-up visit to the Dhanusha DPO on November 20, 2006, in relation to the formation of the task force. The police stated that they had written to the NHRC on October 30, 2006; to the Gorakh Box Battalion of Nepali Army in Mahottari on November 12, 2006, with a copy to Nepal Army Headquarters in Kathmandu; and to Nepal Police Headquarters and its Human Rights Cell in Kathmandu on October 25, 2006, requesting all of them to provide any information related to the case. The DPO stated it had received no responses from any of the concerned agencies.
On January 28, 2007, Jay Kishor Lav, Sanjeev’s father, filed a writ in the Supreme Court against the DPO in Dhanusha. On August 21, 2007, the Supreme Court ordered the Nepal Police Headquarters to provide a report on the investigations carried out by its internal investigating committee. As of January 2008 the report had not been provided to the court.
On July 9, 2006, the police had been taken to the alleged site where, according to witnesses, the bodies of Sanjeev Kumar Karna and the other students are believed to have been buried. The police marked the site, but as of August 2008, no further action had been taken to exhume the bodies. The families claim that the police are not adequately securing the sites. When Advocacy Forum lawyers visited the DPO on January 17, 2008, the Deputy Superintendent of Police informed them that the police had collated all the FIRs registered in connection with the armed conflict, including the two FIRs relating to this incident, and had kept them aside without acting upon them.
Update (September 2009): Although it is now three years since witnesses identified the site, Advocacy Forum lawyers have been unable to find any evidence of steps being taken to exhume the remains.
In response to the Supreme Court, the DPO initially argued that an FIR had not been registered in Diary No. 10 (the register for FIRs), and therefore there was no need to act on it. The Supreme Court, in its final hearing on the petition on February 3, 2009, issued a writ for the police to register the FIR and to proceed with investigations. The FIR was subsequently registered. In its judgment, the Supreme Court noted the conflicting versions provided by the army and the police. An internal police investigation report states that the students were handed over to the Bhiman Barracks. The army on the other hand informed the court that the police were responsible for the disappearances and killing.
On January 29, 2008, the NHRC wrote a letter to the prime minister and Council of Ministers recommending that the government provide NRs300,000 (US$3,922) compensation to the families and initiate further investigations with a view to bring those responsible to justice.
- On 3 march 2008, the Supreme Court ordered to the National Human Rights Commission to send original copy of the letter which released by NHRC on 29 January 2008 on the case of Sanjeev Karna.
- On 2 February, 2009, the Supreme Court issued an order to the authorities to formally file the First Information Report and proceed with the investigation.
- FIR was registered on September 22, 2009 at DPO Dhanusha.
- Father of Sanjeev Kumar Karna died at night on April 18, 2010 at about 2:30 am. He died at Zonal Hospital Janakpur.
- On 15 February 2011, national and international forensic experts exhumed human remains from a site near the Kamala River, at Godar, Dhanusha district. This concluded an exhumation process started in 6 September 2010 to recover the remains thought to be of five students who disappeared after they were arrested by the security forces on 8 October 2003.
- On 6 September 2010, the process of exhumation began under the leadership of NHRC. By the evening of 14 September 2010, four skeletal remains had been recovered along with 21 other pieces of evidences, including cartridge cases, bullets, worn clothes and footwear, necklace, hand ornaments. Finally, on 15 February, 2011, the team led by the NHRC resumed the exhumation and found the remaining fifth body.