Kanak Mani Dixit, a leading Nepalese journalist and civil rights activist, was Friday arrested by the country’s anti-graft commission.
Dixit, editor and publisher of news magazine Himal Southasian, was arrested from his residence in Patan in the afternoon by around 20 police personnel deployed by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).
Dixit, who is also the chairman of Sajha Yatayat, the public transportation bus system in Nepal which serves Kathmandu Valley, has been accused of misappropriating money by misusing his public post.
The anti-graft body has been probing his property details on suspicion of “amassing property disproportionate to his known source of income”.
Dixit, 60, had been ignoring summons by the constitutional anti-graft body and was “on the run”, according to the CIAA. The commission said he had refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Dixit, however, said it was an act of vendetta on the part of CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (Himalmedia Chapter), too, called it “a deliberately vengeful act by the chairman”.
“We have arrested Dixit, the Sajha Yatayat chairman, not the journalist, to investigate his involvement in corruption,” CIAA spokesperson Krishna Hari Pushkar said.
In a statement, the watchdog said Dixit was arrested on the basis of complaints that he misused his public position as chairman of Sajha Yatayat to accumulate property illegally.
Other complaints registered at the CIAA against Dixit allege that he deposited money at domestic and foreign banks in his and his family members’ names by embezzling Sajha Yatayat’s property.
Dixit, the publisher of Himal Southasian and Nepali Times magazines, also writes for leading India media outlets. He said he has been kept in custody at the CIAA’s central office in Tangal, Kathmandu.
The Federation of Nepalese Journalists, meanwhile, said, “He was detained on Friday just before the courts closed to prevent being freed on bail. He is locked up in a common jail cell for petty criminals at Gaushala Police Circle. He was put in the cell despite having elevated blood pressure of 190/90.”
“Dixit had been critical in his regular columns about the appointment of Karki to head the CIAA three years ago. The high-level Rayamajhi Commission had accused him (Karki) of being involved as chief secretary in crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters in the last days of King Gyanendra’s rule exactly 10 years ago,” it said.
“Earlier this month, Dixit was asked to present himself at the CIAA, to which he had replied on Wednesday that the CIAA didn’t have jurisdiction to issue such an order, and that it went against the spirit of a Supreme Court decision in November that questioned the basis on which accusations of financial irregularities were made against him,” the statement further said. “He is being detained in inhuman conditions. He should be released unconditionally forthwith.”