Dixit Detention: ‘personal vendetta’ versus ‘where his wealth came from’ theories

By Ram Khatry, Sydney

The continued detention of Kanak Mani Dixit, a Kathmandu-based journalist and chairman of transport cooperative Sajha Yatayat, is beginning to polarise members of the public in Nepal. There are those who believe that the incarceration is warranted given his massive wealth at home and overseas and then those who, on the other hand, believe that the 61 year old is being punished because he once led protests against the current boss of the constitutional body that has him detained since last Friday.

Given the superfast information flow through social media platforms and of course the information highway, the Dixit imbroglio has simultaneously set tongues wagging through the Nepalese diaspora including in Australia.

Kanak Mani Dixit under detention.
Kanak Mani Dixit under detention (Photo: Twitter, Kunda Dixit)

Lawyer representing Mr Dixit claimed on Wednesday that nothing but ‘personal vendetta’ was responsible for the journalist’s detention which, he warned, was meant to create ‘terror’ in order to develop a ‘culture of silence’ in Nepal. Civil society leaders appeared to reciprocate the vendetta theory, report on a major Nepalese language news portal indicated today.

But supporters of the constitutional body, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), that arrested the editor of Himal Southasia say there would not be smoke without fire. Can he explain the properties and funds he and his family own abroad? Asks a commenter on the Facebook page of southasia.com.au.

Nepal’s largest selling daily Kantipur perhaps tackled the question well on April 25 when its editorial read, as run by Nepali Times in a translated version, “The CIAA is allowed to investigate Dixit’s dealings with Sajha, but not his personal assets that predate his appointment in the transportation cooperative, and they fall beyond CIAA’s terms of reference. If there is even a bit of truth in these allegations, then it is for the Department of Money Laundering or other branches of government to investigate.”

Sambhu Thapa
Sambhu Thapa, advocate

According to Shambhu Thapa, Mr Dixit’s lawyer, this is where the problem lies. He told a gathering of civil society leaders in Kathmandu that the CIAA is concocting a corruption case against him based on information Mr Dixit himself furnished when he was asked to disclose details about his properties.

Pointing out that he was being detained without any satisfactory explanations about the allegations, Mr Thapa urged the Nepalese civil society to dig in and find out what his crimes were, giving a sense of just how confident he is about the innocence of his client.

In the mean time, the international community is keeping an watchful eye on the detention. A campaign is on demanding ‘immediate release’ of Mr Dixit.

A number of human rights and freedom of expression organisations including International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have issued strong statements to this effect. A group of eminent persons from across South Asia were first to issue a similar statement, almost immediately after his detention.

An Australian lawyer of Nepalese origin, Dr Shamser Singh Thapa, however, reminds that Mr Dixit is being held for investigations related to his position as the chairman of Sajha Yatayat and so the CIAA should left alone to do its job. According to the Sydney-based legal expert who has a PhD in Law from University of Western Sydney, no one should interfere with the proceedings of the CIAA, “In the eyes of law, Mr Dixit will be considered innocent unless he is proven guilty. However, we should be mindful of the fact that he was arrested as the chairman of Sajha Yatayat, not as a journalist.”

Shamser Thapa
Dr Shamser Singh Thapa

Dr Thapa pointed out that the operation of the transport cooperative has not been ‘satisfactory’ which he said may indicate either mismanagement or corruption. “Therefore, CIAA can investigate its operation in any way they think fit and proper. The truth will prevail in the Court of Law,” he told southasia.com.au.

What the detained journalist’s lawyer said yesterday conflicts Dr Thapa’s statement in relation to the performance of the cooperative. Sambhu Thapa argued that Sajha Yatayat was on the cusp of liquidation but has been growing under Mr Dixit’s leadership. He lamented that instead of investigating to find out who actually pushed Sajha Yatayat to that dire condition, the CIAA chose to prove ‘corruption’ in an organisation which was progressing well.

He remarked that any citizen has the right to see legal professionals the moment they get arrested but he was not allowed to see Mr Dixit, he complained. This, he said, proved the ‘wrong intention’ of the CIAA boss.

Dr Thapa warned against unnecessary campaigning to secure release of Mr Dixit. If the CIAA was doing this for any sinister reasons then it would be held accountable in due course of time, “CIAA being an independent authority, will be held accountable for their actions sooner or later. It is for the best interest of the nation not to interfere in its actions unless it is proved that the actions have been brought with mala fide intention.”

Lokman Singh Karki
Lokman Singh Karki, chief commissioner, CIAA

When asked if media persons and organisations has the ‘right’ to seek his release, Dr Thapa said, “Media organisations indeed have the duty, as opposed to right, to seek release of anyone (not only journalists) who they believe has been arbitrarily detained by authorities. However, journalists should not be biased in the name of solidarity.  For example, when Aung San Su Kyi was in detention, media organisations from all over the world sought her release, not because she was a journo but because she was a human-being with a different political opinion than that of the authorities.”

Dr Thapa’s views fall in line with a Facebook commenter who said, “I never knew journalists are not to be investigated for corruption charges.”

But Sambhu Thapa claimed during Wednesday’s civil society event that the properties Mr Dixit owns (in foreign countries) were not ‘amassed’ through corruption but inherited from his father and which was transferred abroad with due permission from Nepal Rastra Bank.

One thought on “Dixit Detention: ‘personal vendetta’ versus ‘where his wealth came from’ theories

  1. When did Kanak Dixit take over the reigns of Sajha. Let’s start from that date his activities related to bringing back Sajha to life.. No one is talking about this. Kanak Dixit is not the man who needs to commit corruption to champion his causes. Many such individuals prevail in Nepal and they should really be investigated. There are even those in high offices that do not disclose their finances even though required by law. Why aren’t these being investigate?

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