A Summary of Human Rights Violations in Madhesh, Nepal

Human Rights Violations in Nepal
This image shows excessive use of force in Bhardha Saptari on two leaders Shailendra Sha and Dinesh Yadav. Photo Courtesy of Dipendra Jha (Twitter: @dipjha).

34 people in Nepal, including 7 policemen, have been killed in the last 33 days during violent clashes between protesters and security personnels. A majority of these protesters and those killed are from Madhesh, a region in the south of Nepal known as Terai. After the three ruling parties, namely Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, and CPN-Maoists, turned a deaf ear to demands of parties based in Madhesh, the  latter quit Constituent Assembly process and resorted to street demonstrations. The protests are being used by political parties based in Madhesh to push forward demands for their inclusion in drafting a new constitution and demarcation of federal provinces. However, it is extremely disheartening to see Nepalis and more importantly, human beings lose their lives during the protests. This article provides a summary of human rights violations in Nepal.

Many human rights organizations like National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Asian Human Rights Commission, UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, and Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRD) have alleged that Nepal Police and Armed Police Force may have used excessive force during the protests.

A Partial Timeline of Civilians and Police Killed During Violent Protests

August 10, 2015 – 2 civilians killed by Police, one killed in stampede, six injured in Surkhet

August 24, 2015 – 7 policemen, 1 infant, and 3 civilians killed in Tikapur. Dozens injured

August 25, 2015 – 1 innocent bystander civilian killed in Rautahat

September 1, 2015- 4 civilians killed in Birgunj and 1 in Kalaiya by Nepal Police. Several dozens critically injured.

September 9, 2015 – 5 civilians killed in Jaleshwor by Nepal Police. Several injured.

A Bias in Media Coverage of Human Rights Violations in Nepal

A majority of the prominent Nepali media outlets based in Kathmandu have refrained from providing adequate audiovisual coverage of these protests. However, the social media websites like Twitter and Facebook are full of photographs and videos that depict the protests. Several of these photographs and videos are extremely graphic where the victims lay in a pool of blood or have their skulls damaged due to injuries or have missing body parts.

This video shows members of Armed Police Force mercilessly surrounding and continuously beating a few protesters who are trying to escape. Clearly, the use of force is not in self-defence as outlined in the UN Human Rights document, “Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials“.

YouTube video, courtesy of Er. Aditya Raj.

To see photographs that show human rights violations by Nepal Police and APF, please visit Madhesi Community facebook page. The site admins are doing a terrific job at sharing what is happening in Madhesh.

Many human rights organizations like National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Asian Human Rights Commission, UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, and Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRD) have alleged that Nepal Police and Armed Police Force may have used excessive force during the protests.

Statements from Human Rights Organizations

National Human Rights Commission

The commissioner of NHRC, Mohna Ansari has said,

We have found excessive use of force by the state to control the protesters in all districts. Such approach has fuelled locals’ anger. Security forces applied the same tactics to control the protesters without analysing the situation.

A team from NHRC met with Nepali PM Sushi Koirala on September 2 to discuss about alarming human rights violations in Nepal in various parts of the country (mostly Terai) by Nepal Police. PM Koirala assured NHRC that a solution would be sought through dialogue but the massacre of civilians continue.

NHRC has issued six press releases since August 24, the day Tikapur incident happened. Five of these press releases advise protesting political parties and lawmakers to exercise restraint. Similarly, one press release condemns United Democratic Madhesi Front and National Muslim Struggle Association for issuing public statements against evacuation of police stations in Rautahat district. A civilian Raj Kishor Thakur was mercilessly killed by Nepal Police in Rautahat a few days ago. It is surprising that NHRC has not issued any press releases to condemn the use of excessive force or live bullets by Nepal Police and APF against demonstrators.

Asian Human Rights Commission

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that gives cause for alarm. A keen observer on what is unfolding in Nepal, the AHRC has reason to be extremely concerned about the increasing violence in Nepal’s Terai.

Protesters are incensed after the police opened fire amidst a protestor police clash on August 31. The police firing killed Dilip Chaurasiya, who was aged 30 and resident of Manariya in Parsa District. Thirty-five others have been injured in this firing.

In clashes and ensuing police firing in Parsa District, Krishna Patel, Hafijat Miya, Dharm Raj Singh, and Sohan Sah Kalbar were killed, and seven others have been shot and seriously injured, which includes those shot by the police inside the premises of Narayani Sub-Regional Hospital. Of those killed, Sohan Sah Kalbar was an innocent bystander. Kalbar, a local resident of Nagwa peeked out of his window and was greeted by a bullet to his head.

For instance, when around 25 protestors were demonstrating in Kalaiya Chowk, District Superintendent of Police (DSP) Binod Sharma arrived with a van full of police personnel and opened fire on the protestors. Hafijat Miya, a local resident of Kalaiya was killed on the spot, while Suresh Yadav, Raja Babu Sah, and Rahul Chaudhary sustained bullet injuries.

On the other hand, the local administration has declared Birgunj as a riot zone. This is but an excuse to deploy the Nepal Army to suppress the protests. This does not bode well for the democracy that Nepal intends to become.

After protesters died in police firing in Surkhet District in August, the Ministry of Home Affairs released a circular that the policemen should not carry bullets. That is why in Kailali, on August 24, the Nepal police only carried rubber bullets. On that day, 8 police officers including a toddler were killed; the officers were mob lynched, stabbed and speared and burnt to death.

Following this, the police have erupted with violence in Nepal’s Terai. They are not following minimum standard in the use of force and have been shooting directly with intend to kill, with a revenge and tribal mentality that cannot be justified under any circumstances. Terai now burns; are 2-5 deaths almost everyday.

The security agencies for their part must strictly follow the rules set in Local Administration Act, 1971, before using lethal force. The security personnel must not use lethal force above the knee and in mass protests. [Source: AHRC Website – NEPAL: Protest, revenge, death spreads across Nepal’s Terai]

UN Human Rights Council

“We are concerned by reports from Nepal of continuing political violence. We urge the government of Nepal to create a climate where minority or dissenting views or beliefs are respected, and security forces only employ force as a last resort,” Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

Amnesty International

Amnesty Nepal issued a press release on August 19 titled, “NEPAL: POLICE MUST REFRAIN FROM USING EXCESSIVE FORCE IN PROTESTS“. It states,

Amnesty International calls on the Nepali Police and Armed Police Force to refrain from using excessive and lethal force during ongoing demonstrations against an agreement by Nepal’s major political parties to form six federally-administered states under the proposed new Constitution.

It references UN document that provides guideline for law enforcement officials on usage of force and firearms. It further states,

Any use of force in the policing of demonstrations, even when they have turned violent, must comply with international standards. Principle 5 of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials states that police officers must exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved. Firearms may only be used as a last resort in self-defence or to protect others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.

Amnesty Nepal also acknowledges that several protests turned violent and needed police intervention. However, it has reported that Nepal Police violated UN guidelines and used excessive force. It states,

While a number of protests have turned violent and have needed to be contained, Nepal police have gone beyond what constitutes acceptable use of force in some situations by firing live ammunition into crowds and beating protestors, even after calm has been restored. The government must immediately send clear instructions to the police only to use proportionate force.

Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance (THRD)

THRD has published several reports detailing human rights violations by Nepal Police and APF in Madhesh region of Nepal. In a report published on September 9, THRD investigated causes of seven out of 12 deaths. The report states,

There is serious concern that at least two out of the protesters killed on 31 August and 1 September (Raj Kishor Thakur in Rauthat and Dilip Chaurasiya in Parsa) in police firing were hit in the back. This suggests that the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force were shooting when people were fleeing rather than posing an imminent threat to life. One victim was shot twice while he lay injured on the ground (Hefajat Miya Ansari in Bara). All victims were found to have sustained bullet injuries above the knee in the head, chest and stomach, further suggesting that police were not minimizing their use of lethal force, as required under both international standards and national law.

This tweet shared by Dipendra Jha shows wife and two months old son of Raj Kishor Thakur in Mahuliya, Rautahat. Thakur was an innocent bystander who was killed by Nepal Police on August 25.

Parsa The report further describes several instances where police started baton charges in Parsa district to disperse a group of protesters peacefully assembling on the streets. This worsened the situation at which point a curfew was declared. Since locals could not peacefully protest, they defied the curfew to demonstrate and exercise their right for peaceful assembly. The report further states,

Five people died in Birgunj as a result of police opening fire on 31 August and 1 September. On the same day (1 September) Shanta Lal Yadav was injured when police opened fire on the people sitting at Inarwa chowk, Birgunj. After such occurrences the local residents of Parsa district were incensed and their leaders along with the local residents said that they did not want any police offices in Parsa.

Bara On August 31, 2015, about 20,000 people had joined the “laathi julus” which was entirely peaceful. The report states,

Suddenly, a group of police arrived and immediately resorted to a baton charge. Everyone was shocked. The protestors were scattered after the laathi charge. Then the protestors pelted the police with stones. Police opened fire on the scattered agitators and Hefajat Miya Ansari initially sustained a bullet injury in his right elbow. Eyewitnesses said police fired another two shots at him after he fell to the ground.

This tweet shared by Dipendra Jha shows the one year old son of Hefajat Miya Ansari who was killed by Nepal Police on August 31.


In Rautahat, a group of protestors including a large group of women participated in an event to paint “Madhes Sarkar” on the official board of the government offices. This event was reportedly peaceful until 4 pm when police resorted to baton charge. According to the report, around sixty five protesters received injuries from rubber bullets fired by police. Gaur was declared a riot-hit area and a curfew was declared. The report states,

Despite this, thousands of protesters defied the curfew and came to replace the office boards. The protesters were stopped at a distance of 500 meters from the BP chowk. The situation became tense. The protesters started pelting stones at the police and security reinforcements opened fire on the protesters.

Raj kishor Thakur, a bystander, was killed by police fire while he was making a phone call. Thakur’s dead body was kept in the hospital for a week and no one had access to the hospital as it was totally controlled by security forces.

In the next article, we will discuss what constitutes as excessive use of force by Nepal Police and APF as outlined in the United Nations Human Rights publication, “Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials”. This document aims to prevent human rights violations by providing guidelines on the use of force and firearms during protests.

Puru Shah

Puru Shah is the founder of Madhesi Youth. For Madhesi Youth, he primarily writes about human rights issues and articles with an emphasis on data analysis & data visualization. His goal is to promote justice, equality, sustainable development, and youth empowerment in Nepal. Connect with Puru Shah on Twitter (@digitalsubway)