KATHMANDU, June 1: Supreme Court (SC) Justice Rana Bahadur Bam was shot fatally by two unidentified assailants on a motorbike here late on Thursday morning. The 62-year-old, who took multiple hits and sustained critical injuries in the chest, was declared dead less than two hours later at Norvic Hospital.
Bam’s bodyguard, ASI Mahesh Giri, and a personal friend, were also shot and injured when the assailants opened fire point blank at their car (Ba 8 Cha 9853) at Shankhamul in Lalitpur Sub-Metropolis.
Bodyguard Giri, who tried gallantly to counter the assailants, is at the ICU, according to Norvic Hospital. Giri, who received injuries to the wrist and abdomen, is said to be out of danger. Driver of the car, Asta Lama, was unscathed. Justice Bam had hardly covered a kilometer in the government car on his way to the SC after dropping by at Bangalamukhi temple when he was attacked by assailants.
Two masked youths whizzed by on their red Pulsar on a road off the Bagmati River and pulled up in front of the white car.
The youths, who were brandishing pistols, got off the bike as bodyguard Giri came out of the car and asked them to make way. No sooner had Giri spoken than the assailants shot him. The assailants then siddled to the car and opened fire through the windows. Justice Bam, who had already taken some hits, opened the door shouting ‘help..help’, in a desperate attempt to flee. The assailants gave chase and struck him down with a final shot to the back of the neck, 30 meters from the car. Bam was able to stagger a few meters before collapsing.
“It was like in a movie,” said Shankar Adhikari of Sarlahi, who runs an eatery nearby and saw the shooting. “We later learnt that the man who was shot was a justice. Eyewitnesses initially did not dare to approach the injured. Everybody was afraid. After some 15 minutes, the police arrived,” Adhikari added.
Adhikari said the bodyguard was pressing his injured neck and speaking a little before falling down. “We talked to the driver, who was trembling and saying he saved himself by crouching in his seat,” he added.
Blatant security threat
The shooting took place at a point 100 meters from Sankhamul bridge where a small team of cops is usually deployed. The assailants fled along the Bagmati corridor road and disappeared.
Police estimate that at least 10 shots were fired from Chinese pistols. Such hit-and-runs, usually by bike-riding assailants, are not new to the capital. An unattended red Pulsar was found at Sahayoginagar, Koteshwor. Police investigation into the case is in full swing. A five-member panel led by AIG Kuber Rana was promptly formed to probe the case.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Home Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhchhadar reached Norvic Hospital to inquire about the condition of the injured.
Bhattarai said he had directed the Home Minister to probe the case and nab the guilty. He also said he had directed that proper security be provided for justices.
Some leaflets issued by a never-heard-of Nepalbad Party were found at the incident site. Police said the name must have been concocted by a criminal gang.
Officials said the shooting seems to have been well-planned by those handy with firearms. “This was a well-planned, mission-style incident. We have started investigations with our full strength,” said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Rana.
What doctors say
“Justice Bam succumbed to multiple bullet injuries that caused huge internal bleeding in the chest,” Chief of Cardiology Department at Norvic Dr Bharat Rawat, who was in the team that treated the justice, stated. Dr Rawat said Bam had no recordable blood pressure when he was brought to Norvic and was taken directly to the operation theater where immediate cardiac measures, chest massage and other emergency treatment were started.
Surgery could not be done as the heartbeat stopped. Doctors tried for about an hour to revive him before giving up. “He also had bullet injuries to the wrists but he died of blood vessel injuries in the chest,” Dr Rawat added.
ASI Mahesh Giri had injuries to the side of the neck and to a jugular vein. Doctors repaired the jugular through surgery and he has been shifted to the ICU where he is now on ventilator. He is unconscious but his blood pressure and pulse are normal, according to Dr Rawat.
Ram Giri, Bam’s personal friend, had serious damage to the intestines and these were repaired by the doctors. He has also been shifted to the ICU and is on ventilator. He is unconscious but his blood pressure, pulse and oxygen level are normal. “Both of them are in critical condition and the next 48 hours are very important,” Dr Rawat said.
From job trouble to life loss Known to many as a mild individual, Bam has become Nepal’s first sitting Supreme Court justice to be killed. The incident is the first major attack on the judiciary.
Bam was implicated in a graft case over the course of one and half year. He was in the process of undergoing impeachment for allegedly mishandling a kidnap case during his stint at Patan Appellate Court. He had not been given any duties at the SC.
Bam, however, challenge the allegations against him, saying it was a case of personal vendetta.
My father was honest: Bam´s daughter
Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam had started visiting the Bagalamukhi temple every Thursday ever since he was barred from carrying out his duties as a justice. He was accompanied by his wife Parbati and daughter-in-law on his temple trip on Thursday.
“I was utterly shocked to know through colleagues that my father was shot at. I called my mother who was still in the temple,” said his daughter Sharada Bam Chand, who is a finance company employee. “Though he was barred from carrying out his duties as a justice he did not quit because he was sure he would be given justice,” she said. Bam is survived by his wife Parbati, sons Dipendra and Surendra, and daughter Sharada.
The Bam family had moved into a newly built house at Shivanagar in Kirtipur. Before that the Bam couple was staying at their married daughter Sharada´s house at Kalanki. “We know how our parents struggled to build this house,” said Sharada. “The reality is here for everybody to see.”
Bam´s car at the incident site
Bam´s bodyguard Mahesh Giri being taken to Norvic Hospital
Dr Bharat Rawal announce death of Justice Bam.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai at Norvic hospital.