Student leader hurt when pals ‘practice’ pistol

KATHMANDU, JUN 08 – In what police described as an accidental firing, Basanta Shahi, a bachelor third year student at Amrit Science College (Ascol) affiliated with the CPN-UML-aligned All Nepal National Free Students’ Union (ANNFSU), was critically injured on Friday morning.

The gunshot is said to have occurred while students gathered in the rented room of Bir Bahadur Rawat, 29, in Lazimpat were practising loading and unloading a pistol.

While Rawat and one Mukesh Nepali have been arrested, prime accused Manoj Khatri, who has been charged with opening fire at his own friend, is still at large. While Shahi, Rawat and Nepali had spent the night together, Khatri is said to have arrived in the room at 7:30am. As decided earlier among the four, he had brought a pistol along.

“As we were playing with the weapon, Khatri jokingly aimed his gun at Shahi who was seated on the bed,” police quoted Rawat and Nepali as telling them. “The loaded gun fired as Khatri pulled the trigger, hitting Shahi in the neck.”

After the incident, while Khatri fled on his black Apache motorcycle, leaving his bag as well as the gun in the room, Rawat and Nepali rushed Shahi to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. According to police, Shahi is out of danger.

Shahi had filed his candidacy for the post of president in the ongoing Ascol chapter elections of the ANNFSU. The election was scheduled for Monday but had not taken place following a dispute between candidates–Shahi and Dhan Prasad Paudel–close to UML factions led by KP Sharma Oli and Jhala Nath Khanal, respectively.

“As the election was pending, Shahi and his friends may have brought the gun to threaten opponents,” said Gautam Rai, a central committee member of the ANNFSU. “All four involved in the shooting belonged to the same gang.”

According to the police, investigations so far have suggested that the firing was accidental, not intentional.

Meanwhile, police confiscated the American made automatic pistol from Rawat’s room. Also recovered were three bullets, a bullet lead, blood stained blanket and bed sheet, to-be-issued identity cards and college stamps.

“Even students are into these kinds of activities,” said SSP Jay Bahadur Chand, head of the Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu. “This needs to be seriously looked into. We will make efforts to keep students from such unlawful activities.”

Cases of firing by student leaders in petty issues are recurring, particularly during elections and campus construction bidding processes. In April 2010, Nepal Students’ Union and ANNFSU leaders exchanged fire at Tri-Chandra College. Three months later, the shooters were arrested but the police were forced to release them shortly on political pressure. Last month, ANNFSU leaders opened fire at NSU cadres at Pashupati Campus, Chabahil. No one was arrested for the crime.ANKIT ADHIKARI & BINOD GHIMIRE ekantipur

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