On October 23, 2003 at approximately 9:00 p.m. Shyam Kumar Shrestha was arrested by security forces personnel at his home in Bagbazar, Kathmandu. Allegedly, three men in track suits arrived at Shrestha’s home and said they were taking him to Maharajgunj in Kathmandu for questioning. The men were reported to state that Shrestha would be returned home the following day. He has not been seen since and his whereabouts are unknown. Inquiries made by the Nepal Bar Association regarding Shrestha’s disappearance have been thus far met with no response. [ASA 31/061/2003].
The reason for this arrest is unknown. Shrestha is a member of the Nepal Bar Association, but is not a member or known supporter of any political party. Such disappearances have been on the rise in Nepal since the Maoist Communist Part of Nepal (CPN) launched their “people’s war” in 1996. Under the 2002 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Control and Punishment Act) (TADA), passed by the Nepalese government in response to the CPN, security forces have been given the power to arrest without warrant and detain suspects for up to 90 days. [ASA 31/061/2003].
Letter Written October 28, 2003
Shyam Kumar Shrestha was released on November 5, 2003 at approximately 8:30 p.m. According to reports, he had been held Chhauni army barracks in Kathmandu. He was questioned in custody about alleged links to the Newar Khala cultural group that campaigns for minority language rights in Nepal and is believed by authorities to be linked to the CPN. [ASA 31/061/2003].