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Dr Govinda Rizal, Bhutanese human rights leader, dies in accident in Kathmandu

Bhutan Watch, an exile-based Bhutanese think tank, has  demanded an investigation by Nepali authorities into the circumstances of his death. 

Kathmandu: Bhutan Watch, an exile-based Bhutanese think tank, has expressed condolences on the death of Dr Govinda Rizal, one of the leaders of Bhutanese Movement for Human Rights and Democracy and a leading voice of the Bhutanese refugee community in Kathmandu, while also demanding a fair probe into the circumstances of his passing.

Dr Govinda Rizal passed away on May 5 in a bus accident. He was a scientist, editor, researcher, author, scholar, plant breeder, community leader, coach, mentor, teacher and a  press freedom activist.  He also served as a senior lecturer at the Central Campus of Tribhuvan University.

His death has left a profound void in the entire Bhutanese community, both in exile and inside Bhutan, Bhutan Watch said in a statement. 

According to preliminary news reported by the Nepal Police, the accident happened in Kirtipur, Kathmandu, near the Ayurvedic Hospital along TU Road.  There are conflicting reports about the event unfolding. “We feel that the Nepal police have not adequately and sincerely investigated this tragic accident. It has been highly challenging for us to believe that only one person died on the spot from the reported accident while others sustained only minor injuries,” the statement issued by Ram Karki, coordinator at Bhutan Watch, said. “Until a thorough investigation is not done, we can naturally suspect that this gruesome death can be the handiwork of foreign intelligence agencies rather than just an accident, given the stature and the critical stand taken by the late Dr Govinda Rizal about the issues concerning Human Rights violations in Bhutan.”

The Bhutan Watch has demanded that the government of Nepal should constitute a high-level investigating team to investigate the detailed facts behind his death and publish the report. “The bus driver should be interrogated and investigated for reckless driving and punished as per the law of the land,” the statement said. “The family members of the deceased should be provided with all the appropriate support, including support for their mental health and well-being.”