Sandeep Lamichhane, skipper of the men’s national cricket team of Nepal is in the news again.
This time the highly rated spin maestro is under the spotlight not for his on-field exploits but for a damaging and damming reason.
Nepal’s first-ever player to play in the prestigious Indian Premier League and other leagues in Australia, West Indies, Pakistan, Canada and Afghanistan, and Bangladesh is facing a career-threatening charge.
A minor girl aged 17 has filed a police complaint against Lamichhane alleging him of raping her in a hotel room. She has accused him of drugging and raping her twice.
Indeed, it is a serious allegation with grave consequences. The news has come like a bolt from the blue.
When I learned about the news, my initial reaction was absolute shock and disbelief. I told myself, how could he do such a thing?
In the court of law, he is innocent until proven guilty. One thing is certain, the police will conduct an investigation into the allegation.
Whether the allegation is true or not, nobody knows at this point. We do not know all the facts. However, nothing can be ruled out. All we can do is make assumptions.
Currently, Lamichhane is in the West Indies to play in the Caribbean Premier League. He has claimed his innocence and sought help from the Cricket Association of Nepal(CAN) to fight the sexual assault charge.
Given the compassionate nature of the charge, CAN must act promptly and do what is in the best interest of Nepal cricket.
They have to make the right decision and take appropriate actions against the skipper until a verdict is reached by the court.
They should keep in mind that this is a high-profile case involving a player with a celebrity tag. Their every move will be closely followed by the country.
Innocent or guilty, Lamichhane has the answer. A police investigation is a must to get to the bottom of this allegation to unravel the truth.
Should he be found to have indulged in the act, it would be very unfortunate and probably put his sparkling career in jeopardy.
On the other hand, if the rape accusations turn out to be false, it will be a huge relief for him and the entire cricket fraternity.
Already the Kathmandu District Court has issued an arrest warrant against the skipper. Now the Police have the legal authority to arrest him.
It is obvious that the accuser and the accused will duke it out in court ultimately.
Lamichhane is the second celebrity facing rape charges after popular actor Paul Shah who is serving jail time for committing the exact crime.
Twenty-two-year-old Lamichhane who has had a meteoric rise to stardom is one of the most recognized Nepali cricketers internationally in the history of Nepal cricket.
His future looks increasingly vulnerable and uncertain at the moment. He finds himself in uncharted territory with the sword dangerously hanging over his neck.
His image has taken a big hit and already tarnished his reputation and threatened to end his career.
The extraordinarily talented Lamichhane’s case is a massive setback to Nepal cricket. He has been the bowling mainstay for the team.
For now, let us keep our fingers crossed till the police complete the investigation and the court delivers the verdict. Admittedly, it is a very sad day and a big loss for Nepal cricket.